We've upgraded Home Bancshares (HOMB), which provides commercial and retail banking and related financial services, from hold to buy, driven by its impressive record of earnings per share growth, compelling growth in net income, revenue growth, expanding profit margins and good cash flow from operations. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company is trading at a premium valuation based on our review of its current price compared to such things as earnings and book value.
EPS improved by 15.2% in the most recent quarter compared with the same quarter a year ago, and during the past fiscal year, Home Bancshares increased its bottom line by earning $1.08 vs. 70 cents in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings to $1.22. Net income growth of 25.6% outperformed the S&P 500 and the commercial banks industry, though revenue increased by only 2.8%, compared with the industry average of 8.5%. A gross profit margin of 64.3% is high, having increased significantly from the same period last year. The 15% net profit margin is above the industry average. Net operating cash flow has increased to $8.50 million, or 36.13% when compared with the same quarter last year, but Home Bancshares is still growing at a significantly lower rate than the industry average of 169.1%.
We've downgraded energy and energy services provider OGE Energy (OGE) from buy to hold. Strengths include its increase in net income, robust revenue growth and attractive valuation levels. However, we also find weaknesses including poor profit margins and generally poor debt management.
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