There are reasons to expect growth from UniFirst (UNF) - Get Report , which supplies and services uniforms and workwear to various industries. Owing to the weak oil price environment, revenue growth has been hard to come by for UniFirst. The drop in oil prices have forced large industrial companies to slash budgets and scale back on projects that would have required the sort of workwear that UniFirst provides.
Accordingly, its shares have been under pressure for most of 2015, falling some 10% in 2015, including six-month and 12-month declines of 3% and 1%, respectively -- trailing the S&P 500 (SPX) index during both spans.
But investors who are looking for a solid turnaround candidate that is trading at a relatively cheap price could do well here. UniFirst's forward price-to-earnings ratio of 16 is a bit better than the forward P/E of 17 for the S&P 500.
The stock has an average analyst 12-month price target of $127, above current levels of about $109.50. And with fiscal 2017 consensus earnings estimates of $6.23 a share -- an 8% year-over-year increase -- it would seem UniFirst has already seen the worst of this trough.
Earnings are projected to grow at an annual rate of 11.5% in the next five years.
Shares of UniFirst are scheduled to trade ex-dividend Tuesday, Dec. 8. To qualify for a dividend payment, investors must own UniFirst shares on or before its ex-dividend date -- the last day the company will finalize its roster of shareholders to whom it will mail payments.
Investors of record as of Thursday, Dec. 10 will receive UniFirst's 3.75-cent per share quarterly payout on Thursday, Jan. 7, 2016. At its recent price around $109.50, its dividend yields about 0.14% annually -- well below the 2.00% yield paid out by the average stock in the in the S&P 500 (SPX) index.
It's not an impressive yield, especially since the Wilmington, Mass.-based company has not raised its dividend in 15 years, but the company has more to offer shareholders than dividend.
Now could be the time to own UniFirst stock, which has beaten Wall Street's earnings estimates for six straight quarters.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.