Cintas (NASDAQ:CTAS) is primarily known as a work uniform provider, but it has become much more than that. It is one of the biggest players in the entire service industry infrastructure.
From first-aid and safety to compliance training to commercial cleaning services, CTAS does more than just rent uniforms. And its traditional client base — service-oriented businesses and manufacturing firms — is where the U.S. economy is growing the most.
For good or bad, most of the wage increases in the U.S. economy are coming from the service economy, not the white-collar professions. All the services that CTAS delivers are focused on the fastest growing part of the economy.
Granted, CTAS stock has been on a roll, up 36% year-to-date and 62% over the past 12 months. Its price-to-earnings ratio has also gotten a bit hot here, coming in around 30 at this point.
But its recent earnings report again came in above expectations in almost every category. And it has completed most of the digestion of its $2.2 billion acquisition of G&K Services last year.
That can be a challenging process, but CTAS is very adept at growing through acquisition and its management team has done another great job.
CTAS is also doing a great job by diversifying, yet sticking to its knitting. It knows its core clients. It has been in the business since it launched as the Acme Industrial Laundry Company in 1929.
It was founded by Richard (Doc) Farmer. But in 1956 his grandson Richard (Dick) Farmer came aboard and that’s when the real growth started. Dick still sits on the board to this day.
Why CTAS Stock Continues to Show Promise
And that’s another aspect to CTAS stock. Cintas is still a family company with old-school values. It’s not a sexy business and it will never be. It is shareholder friendly — it is a well-ensconced Dividend Aristocrat, raising its dividend every year for the past 35 years. It was built out of the Great Depression, so it found a way to succeed when many around it couldn’t keep their doors open.
This conservative approach has served it well. Revenue has grown eight out of the past 10 years. That means the Great Recession only slowed growth for a couple years.
But this conservative approach certainly hasn’t hurt CTAS stock’s growth. It continues to pay down the debt it added to seal the G&K deal, and it should have that under control soon. That’s not to say it overleveraged itself for the deal. It is simply carrying slightly more debt than its historical average, which is very manageable.
None of its business lines are very sexy and investors have been moving into CTAS stock, so it’s not a bargain. But given the momentum of the economy, the sector Cintas serves and its blue-chip management, this is one of those stocks that you can rest easy owning.
Cintas stock will not only endure but it will thrive, come what may.
Louis Navellier is a renowned growth investor. He is the editor of five investing newsletters: Blue Chip Growth, Emerging Growth, Ultimate Growth, Family Trust and Platinum Growth. His most popular service, Blue Chip Growth, has a track record of beating the market 3:1 over the last 14 years. He uses a combination of quantitative and fundamental analysis to identify market-beating stocks. Mr. Navellier has made his proven formula accessible to investors via his free, online stock rating tool, PortfolioGrader.com. Louis Navellier may hold some of the aforementioned securities in one or more of his newsletters.