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Esterline Technologies (ESL) Soars to 52-Week High, Time to Cash Out?

Zacks Equity Research

Have you been paying attention to shares of Esterline Technologies (ESL)? Shares have been on the move with the stock up 3.5% over the past month. The stock hit a new 52-week high of $122.14 in the previous session. Esterline Technologies has gained 63.4% since the start of the year compared to the -6.9% move for the Zacks Aerospace sector and the -3.9% return for the Zacks Aerospace - Defense Equipment industry.

What's Driving the Outperformance?

The stock has a great record of positive earnings surprises, as it hasn't missed our earnings consensus estimate in any of the last four quarters. In its last earnings report on November 20, 2018, Esterline Technologies reported EPS of $1.87 versus consensus estimate of $1.38 while it beat the consensus revenue estimate by 0.68%.

For the current fiscal year, Esterline Technologies is expected to post earnings of $4.73 per share on $2.05 billion in revenues. This represents a 13.43% change in EPS on a 0.8% change in revenues. For the next fiscal year, the company is expected to earn $4.7 per share on $2.14 billion in revenues. This represents a year-over-year change of -0.7% and 4.22%, respectively.

Valuation Metrics

Esterline Technologies may be at a 52-week high right now, but what might the future hold for the stock? A key aspect of this question is taking a look at valuation metrics in order to determine if the company has run ahead of itself.

On this front, we can look at the Zacks Style Scores, as these give investors a variety of ways to comb through stocks (beyond looking at the Zacks Rank of a security). These styles are represented by grades running from A to F in the categories of Value, Growth, and Momentum, while there is a combined VGM Score as well. The idea behind the style scores is to help investors pick the most appropriate Zacks Rank stocks based on their individual investment style.

Esterline Technologies has a Value Score of C. The stock's Growth and Momentum Scores are A and A, respectively, giving the company a VGM Score of A.

In terms of its value breakdown, the stock currently trades at 25.8X current fiscal year EPS estimates. On a trailing cash flow basis, the stock currently trades at 15.6X versus its peer group's average of 12.5X. Additionally, the stock has a PEG ratio of 2.71. This isn't enough to put the company in the top echelon of all stocks we cover from a value perspective.

Zacks Rank

We also need to look at the Zacks Rank for the stock, as this supersedes any trend on the style score front. Fortunately, Esterline Technologies currently has a Zacks Rank of #2 (Buy) thanks to rising earnings estimates.

Since we recommend that investors select stocks carrying Zacks Rank of 1 (Strong Buy) or 2 (Buy) and Style Scores of A or B, it looks as if Esterline Technologies passes the test. Thus, it seems as though Esterline Technologies shares could have a bit more room to run in the near term.

How Does Esterline Technologies Stack Up to the Competition?

Shares of Esterline Technologies have been moving higher, and the company still appears to be a decent choice, but what about the rest of the industry? Some of its industry peers are also looking good, including CAE (CAE), Moog (MOG.A), and The Boeing (BA), all of which currently have a Zacks Rank of at least #2 and a VGM Score of at least B, making them well-rounded choices.

The Zacks Industry Rank is in the top 8% of all the industries we have in our universe, so it looks like there are some nice tailwinds for Esterline Technologies, even beyond its own solid fundamental situation.

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