- Buffett’s principles have led me to BAE Systems
- A stock with solid earnings and revenue
- Expanding its US operations
After reading about Warren Buffett’s principles, I took that knowledge and applied it to my own investing. I bought Molten Ventures, a tech-focused venture capital firm, in 2020 and sold it for double the price one year later. I need no convincing that Buffett’s methods work. Now I’ve found a long-term growth stock, BAE Systems (LSE:BA) to buy in the FTSE 100.
Excellent earnings, remarkable revenue
Buffett first inspires me to look at basic company data, like revenue. From the years ending 31 December 2016 to 2020, the growth experienced by BAE Systems has been nothing short of sensational. I don’t mean this in the sense of a 10 times share price increase, or annual compounding growth of 50%. No, BAE Systems is sensational because it produces solid results year in, year out.
This stock has managed to increase its revenue by 5% for the calendar year 2020. I am impressed with this figure because it shows steady growth during the first year of the pandemic. For context, another stock engaged in defence contracts, Babcock, suffered a slight fall in revenue.
As a defence and aerospace business, the company has five distinct segments. These are mainly centred in the US and UK, but there are other operations in Europe, Scandinavia, and the Middle East.
What’s more, BAE Systems boasts exceptional earnings-per-share (EPS) growth. Warren Buffett is particularly keen on this data, because it shows how well or otherwise the stock is earning for its shareholders. This figure has increased to 46.8 in 2020 from 40.3 in 2016. Buffett would use these numbers to calculate compounding annual growth rates. In this case, BAE Systems EPS compounding growth is 3%. While this may not seem exciting, it tells me that this is a stock that delivers solid results year in, year out. On Buffett’s principles, this would be an excellent choice for my portfolio.
Dividends vs. retained earnings
Over the last five calendar years, BAE Systems has been consistent with its dividend cover. This usually stands at about 1.9p per share, except a bumper year in 2019. The yield has naturally moved around from 1.7% to 7.7% depending on share price.
This stock uses whatever profits it retains to expand. Warren Buffett has consistently mentioned retained earnings over the years and it is something I try to factor into my investment decisions. In November 2021, for instance, it bought Bohemia Interactive Simulations. This is a military simulation training and software company whose largest customer is the US military. JP Morgan has recently downgraded BAE Systems, however, because it is exposed to the US market. JP Morgan has recently said that this market is “now in a slowdown”. For me, though, the purchase of Bohemia will not only increase the company’s presence in the US, but it shows me that the management is constantly focused on putting earnings to work.
Buffett’s principles have guided me to success before. If I find a company with solid compounding growth and increasing revenue, then I will add it to my own portfolio. BAE Systems is no exception and I will by buying straightaway.