Nielsen Holdings (NLSN) owns a deep economic moat in a critical business. Nielsen is in the business of information and measurement; its television ratings are its most well-known product, offering networks (and, more important, advertisers) a glimpse at how many eyes are on any given program. The firm applies similar analysis to consumer purchasing data and operates trade shows and corporate events for commercial clients.
The combination of deep-moat analytics and an asset-light model make Nielsen an attractive firm. Because clients need the data Nielsen provides in order to function, the firm has some degree of pricing power, at least in its transaction and viewer data units. Because the firm has been quick to embrace changing industry trends, like online content, it's been able to keep its data relevant for companies looking to monetize more platforms.Financially, Nielsen sports an adequate balance sheet, albeit one with a few blemishes. The firm's financial leverage is on the high side for a service-driven company, but that's partly offset by the ability to generate free cash and pay it out to shareholders in the form of a 1.9% dividend yield. With stellar relative strength in this Rocket Stock in 2013, NLSN could have considerable upside ahead of it.
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