Results preview – Can Cochlear Limited break through $100 a share

Blackmores Limited (ASX: BKL) has not only smashed through the $100 per share level, but in fact kept right on going to crack the $200 mark as well over the past 12 months, although Cochlear Limited (ASX: COH) has so far failed to climb into triple-digit territory despite its peer CSL Limited (ASX: CSL) managing to do so.

Given the high-quality nature of Cochlear’s business operations – it holds a commanding position as a global leader in the development and manufacture of implantable hearing solutions – it is arguably just a matter of when, rather than if, the group joins the $100 a share “club”.

With the stock currently trading at $94 and having been as high as $97 in the last 12 months, the upcoming interim results which are expected to be released on Thursday February 11 could act as a catalyst for the stock to finally touch $100.

Here’s what to expect next week…

Strong growth was experienced in financial year (FY) 2015 suggesting good momentum into FY 2016. For the 12 months ending 30 June 2015 Cochlear reported revenue growth of 15% to $942 million, earnings growth of 38% to $146 million and an operating margin which expanded to 22.3% from 18.6%.

At last year’s full year results presentation management also provided guidance for FY 2016 net profit after tax in the range of $165 million to $175 million assuming a US dollar/Australia dollar exchange rate of 75 cents.

This guidance was reconfirmed at Cochlear’s annual general meeting in October with the company noting that sales momentum was continuing.

According to data supplied by Morningstar, analyst consensus forecasts show earnings per share of 315.8 cps in FY 2016 implying that Cochlear is trading on a price-to-earnings multiple of around 30 times.

A multiple like that obviously demands solid growth rates to be achieved. If the market remains comfortable that the future looks bright for Cochlear then trading up through $100 a share in the near term looks a very real possibility.

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Motley Fool contributor Tim McArthur has no position in any stocks mentioned. Unless otherwise noted, the author does not have a position in any stocks mentioned by the author in the comments below. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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