NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- With only around 300,000 shares traded per day, recreational vehicle manufacturer Thor Industries (THO - Get Report) doesn't get a lot of attention in the stock market, but the company's fast-growing revenue and profits have produced a balance sheet that is hard to ignore. And despite beating the market with almost 15% stock gains over the past three months, Thor's improving business suggests further gains are possible.
Founded in 1980 by Wade F. B. Thompson and Peter B. Orthwein, the Elkhart, Ind.-based company makes a wide array of RVs. Its motorized division manufactures the popular brands Airstream and Thor Motor Coach, while its towable and trailer brands include CrossRoads, Heartland, Livin' Lite and Bison, among others.
Thor continues to grow both organically and through acquisitions, having picked off competitors such as Cruiser RV and DRV Luxury Suites just in the past year. The company's deal-making has helped Thor become both a fast-growing company and one that operates a with a clean balance sheet -- qualities that should appeal to growth-hungry and conservative investors alike.
For instance, as of the most recent quarter, Thor had a net cash position of almost $250 million with zero debt payments due, according to Yahoo! Finance. Equally impressive, the company generates another $220 million in operating cash flow. That lack of debt means more cash available to invest in the company or redistribute to shareholders via share buybacks and dividends. The company pays a quarterly dividend of 27 cents, yielding 1.76%.
You might not think of the RV industry as being a bastion of growth, until you examine Thor's recent quarterly results, which included revenue of $852.4 million -- more than 34% above its mark from the previous year. And, in a sign that its recent deal-making will pay off long-term, it reported that 15% of its revenue -- $135 million -- can be expected from the Cruiser RV and DRV Luxury Suites acquisitions, for which Thor paid a combined $47.4 million.
Thor's towable sales increased 43% in one year, but it's not just winning on the top line. The towable business more than doubled its profits during the quarter, too. Even more impressive, the company is growing its gross margins (up 90 basis points) at the same time it is cutting expenses. Gross margins are 12% of revenue, while expenses account for just over 6%, which adds up to larger profits of $28.6 million -- almost 80% above last year. To say the economics fundamentals of Thor's business are working would be an understatement.
Although the higher interest rate era many market-watchers see approaching could cut into RV sales when the cost of borrowing rises, the company continues to make tons of money, and the fact that it has no debt minimizes the risk. Not only are Thor's profit margins improving, it's also growing revenue at a strong rate, thanks in part to its strong position within its market. To top it all off, the company is still finding ways to cut expenses.
Given these factors, Thor looks like an attractive bet, but there's one more reason it should be in your portfolio. With the stock trading at around $61, with a trailing price-to-earnings ratio of 17, there's still money to be made here. Earnings are projected to grow 17% this year, and at an annual rate of 14% in the next five years.
Assuming the market rewards Thor for its efficient business by assigning a 20 multiple, which is the current average for S&P 500