Editor’s note: This column is part of our Best Stocks for 2014 contest. Louis Navellier’s pick for the contest is FleetCor Technologies (FLT).
I’m always asked for my top stock pick. “If you could only buy one stock, Louis, what would it be?” Well, I’d be miserable and out of a job if I could only pick one, but with my feet to the fire, I would choose FleetCor Technologies (FLT).
For those who aren’t familiar, this company operates in a niche market with tremendous profit potential: fuel cards.
FleetCor is best known for providing payment processing services and private-label fuel credit cards to gas station operators and owners of vehicle fleets. In addition to fleet cards, the company’s other payment products include food cards and corporate lodging discount cards. Currently, FleetCor serves more than half a million commercial accounts, covering millions of cardholders across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. Last year alone, the company processed nearly 304 million transactions.
Lately, FleetCor has been on a buying spree. This spring, FLT agreed to buy out Telenav’s (TNAV) mobile business — an operation that serves 8,000 business clients by tracking the location of mobile workers in field-based businesses. FleetCor aims to adopt the business to add value to its ongoing fuel card programs.
Also earlier this year, FLT scooped up GE Capital Australia’s fuel card business. GE Capital’s Fleet Card is currently accepted at 6,000 fuel outlets and 7,000 automotive service centers across the country. This deal is expected to add 3 cents per share to FLT earnings.
But that’s not all — Fleetcor then revealed in late October that it had bought out Epyx, which specializes in fleet maintenance in the United Kingdom. Epyx operates a vehicle repair network of 9,000 service garages and provides an Internet-based system to fleet operators across the pond.
And FleetCor’s earnings history and prospects are strong.
In the most recent quarter (reported Oct. 30), FLT reported earnings of $1.08, which were up 30% year-over-year and 10% better than analyst estimates. Revenues also jumped 20% to $225.2 million and topped the Street consensus.
For the upcoming quarter, while the average business services company is headed toward a 92% drop in earnings, FleetCor is expected to post 29% growth. Analysts have been scrambling to revise their estimates up as the company continues its buying spree. This means that we’ll likely see more earnings surprises from FLT stock; after all, the company has beaten estimates for numerous consecutive quarters.
FLT stock had gained an incredible 120% with just a couple weeks to go in 2013, but still trades at a relatively reasonable 24 times forward earnings.
I like the business, I like the company and I love the growth prospects of FLT stock. FleetCor Technologies isn’t just my entry for the Best Stocks of 2014 contest, but my top pick for 2014 and probably for the next few years.
Louis Navellier is the editor of Blue Chip Growth. As of this writing, he was long FLT in his Blue Chip Growth portfolio.