Earlier this week, I bought 4 shares of Old Dominion Freight Line(ODFL) for $162.60 a piece or a total of $650.40. Of course since I bought shares, the stock has continued to fall. It now stands 3.5% lower than where I bought it. This always seems to happen to me, unfortunately luck doesn’t seem to run in my blood. Therefore I’ll have to keep relying on brains and long term appreciation to make my money. For those keeping track I now own 6 stocks and have $5,303.91 left in cash in my 10k Portfolio.
Founded in 1934, Old Dominion Freight Line has been around for a long time. I generally like old companies (as long as they are still growing), they have survived all kinds of different economic environments. ODFL is a less than truckload(LTL) transportation company. Rather than trucking a full capacity for one company, they pick up small loads from various customers. They then put them all together and because of their logistic mastery are able to deliver the goods quickly. They service all kinds of customers ranging from auto parts to healthcare equipment. If you need something trucked, they are happy to help.
According to their 2017 annual report, they are now the 4th largest LTL company in the country, up from 6th in 2011. Gaining market share is certainly a good thing and I hope this trend continues. One sentence from their report I particularly liked was that “Significant capital is required to create and maintain a network of service centers and a fleet of tractors and trailers. The high fixed costs and capital spending requirements for LTL motor carriers make it difficult for new start-up or small operators to effectively compete with established carriers.” This forms a bit of an oligopoly with the other large LTL companies. New competitors simply can’t compete with the incumbent businesses, due to a lack of existing infrastructure.
Now let’s take a look at some of the numbers that make ODFL so compelling. They grew revenue every single year since 1996 with the exception of the 2009-10 recession. Consistency is key, allowing me to sleep easy at night. From 2013-2017 EPS grew from 2.39 to 4.35 for a CAGR of 12.7%. While not exactly stellar over this period, growth is beginning to rise quickly. This past quarter earnings grew 67.2% over the prior year and growth is not expected to slow down anytime soon. The company is winning new jobs and growing market share. They trade around a 27.5 P/E which in a vacuum is quite high, but I find to be reasonable for a company that is growing considerably and of high quality. Remember, I am the GARP investor after all. Growth at a reasonable price is my goal.
ODFL has a ROE above 20%, meaning for every dollar of equity put into the business over the years, they are able to generate a 20%+ return. This is frankly quite stellar. They are investing heavily into CapEx every year and if they can keep up these same level of returns, investors should do quite well. The business is actually remarkably simple. They earn a generous amount of cash flow, then take that money and invest it into new trucks and fulfillment centers for logistics. With whatever cash is leftover ODFL pays a small dividend, buys back some shares and pays off whatever debt they owe. The company has a very clean balance sheet with only 839 million in liabilities, a minuscule number for a 13 billion dollar company.
Overall, I don’t expect ODFL to be my portfolios best performer 5 years from now. I do however expect it to be a portfolio anchor, that is meaningfully larger every single year. They are a simple business that can be relied upon. Management knows what they are doing and the stock is trading at a fair price.
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