How to Get Your Paws on Some Pet Stocks

by Nkem Iregbulem

There’s no denying that Americans love their pets. More people own pets now than ever before. According to the American Pet Products Association’s 2017-2018 National Pet Owners Survey, 68% of U.S. households, or 85 million families, currently own pets — with a dog being the most commonly owned pet. The APPA also predicts that pet ownership will continue to grow over the next few decades.

As pet ownership rises, so does the amount of money that households spend to own and take care of their pets. A table in a report from the Insurance Information Institute provides total U.S. pet industry expenditure values from 2007 to 2017. The table indicates that these expenditures hit a high in 2017. In just that one year, Americans collectively spent approximately $69.1 billion dollars on their pets. This value has been on the rise since at least 2007 when expenditures in the pet industry stood at just $41.2 billion. Another table reports on the type and magnitude of expenses faced by cat and dog owners annually by survey participants. Reported annual expenses came from surgical and routine vet visits, food, food treats, toys, grooming, vitamins, and kennel boarding. Surgical vet visits were reported to cost around $474 annually for a dog and around $245 annually for a cat. Cat and dog owners in the survey also reported that they spend around $235 on pet food over the course of a year.

Given the continued increase in the amount of money we spend on pets, you may want look into pet stocks — stocks that benefit from this exact type of spending activity. Take a look at a few stocks, and you just might find yourself a treat. Your options include Patterson Companies Inc. (PDCO), Bayer AG (BAYRY), Henry Schein Inc. (HSIC), PetMed Express Inc. (PETS), Central Garden & Pet Co. (CENT), and Heska Corp. (HSKA). All of these stocks can be found on the NASDAQ exchange except for the BAYRY stock, which trades over-the-counter.

Your first option is Patterson Companies Inc., a medical supplies company involved in the research, development, and distribution of veterinary and dental supplies. The company was founded in 1877 and is headquartered in Minnesota. It has three operating segments: Dental, Animal Health, and Corporate. Under its Animal Health operating segment, it provides animal health services, technologies, and products such as pharmaceuticals, vaccines, diagnostics, antibiotics, equipment, and software to veterinarians, other animal health professionals, producers, and retailers. Patterson Companies Inc. has a market cap of $1.19 billion and pays a nice dividend yield of 4.63%. Its stock has a very favorable price-to-sales ratio of 0.39, which has been decreasing each fiscal year since 2013. It also has a trailing P/E ratio of 10.53 and a forward P/E ratio of 12.63.The company has a 5-year revenue growth rate of 8.49% and an even better 3-year revenue growth rate of 11.80%.

Based in Germany and founded in 1863, Bayer AG is a multinational pharmaceuticals and life science company. The company operates through its Pharmaceuticals, Consumer Health, Crop Science, and Animal Health segments. Under its Animal Health segment, the company researches, produces, and distributes prescription and nonprescription veterinary products and solutions to help prevent and treat diseases in companion and farm animals. Its main products include human and veterinary pharmaceuticals, biotechnology products, agricultural chemicals, and high value polymers. Bayer AG has a large market cap of $81.44 billion and pays a dividend yield of 2.92%. With a price-to-sales ratio of 2.38, the company’s stock is considered somewhat overpriced. It trades at 23.55 times trailing earnings and 14.03 times forward earnings. The stock also has a price-to-book ratio of 2.14. The company faces a negative 3-year growth rate of -5.38% and relatively better, but still negative 5-year revenue growth rate of -2.50%.

Another option is Henry Schein Inc., a company that distributes dental, medical, and veterinary healthcare supplies and products. The company was founded in 1932 and is headquartered in New York. It has two main operating segments, namely its Health Care Distribution segment and its Technology & Value-Added Services segment. Through these segments, it provides vaccines, pharmaceuticals, surgical products, equipment, and other products to its customers around the world. Henry Schein Inc. has a market $11.68 billion and does not pay a dividend yield. Its stock has a great price-to-sales ratio of 0.92 and a price-to-book ratio of 3.98. It trades at 27.50 times trailing earnings and 17.99 times forward earnings. Henry Schein Inc. has enjoyed increasing revenue values each fiscal year since 2013 as it boasts a 3-year revenue growth rate of 6.31% and a similar 5-year revenue growth rate of 6.87%.

You might also consider PetMed Express Inc., a Florida-based company founded in 1996. The company operates as a pet pharmacy and offers pet medications, supplements, and pet supplies such as food, beds, and crates for dogs and cats. With its pharmacy license, it sells both prescription and nonprescription pet medications. The company also frequently researches new healthcare products. PetMed Express Inc. has a market cap of $878 million and pays a dividend yield of 2.35%. A price-to-sales ratio of 3.25 suggests that the stock is overpriced. The stock also has a price-to-book ratio of 7.75. It trades at 23.93 times trailing earnings and 19.23 times forward earnings. The company’s revenue has been growing each fiscal year since 2015. PetMed Express Inc. enjoys a 5-year revenue growth rate of 3.74% and an even better 3-year revenue growth rate of 6.08%.

Founded in 1955, Central Garden & Pet Co. is a California-based company that distributes garden and pet supplies across the United States. It has two main operating segments: Pet and Garden. Under its Pet segment, the company offers products for dogs and cats such as edible bones, edible and nonedible chews, pet food, toys, carriers, treats, and grooming supplies. It also offers appropriate food and supplies for birds, fish, reptiles, and horses. These products are primarily sold to independent pet distributors, mass merchants, retail chains, grocery stores, and bookstores. Central Garden & Pet Co. has a market cap of $2.34 billion and does not pay a dividend yield. The company’s stock has a price-to-book ratio of 3.29 and a price-to-sales ratio of 1.10 — though this value has been on the rise since 2013. It trades at 21.60 times trailing earnings and 20.92 times forward earnings. With a 3-year revenue growth rate of 8.59% and a lower 5-year revenue growth rate of 3.86%, Central Garden & Pet Co. has seen increasing revenue values each fiscal year since 2014.

One more option is Heska Corp., a company founded in 1988 and headquartered in Colorado. The company manufactures, distributes, and sells veterinary diagnostic and specialty products. These products are primarily used in canine and feline healthcare markets. The company operates through two segments, namely its Core Companion Animal Health segment and its Other Vaccines, Pharmaceuticals and Products segment. Through the former, the company provides veterinary imaging instruments and services, veterinary chemistry analyzers, veterinary hematology analyzers, chewable treatment tablets, and allergy products. Through the latter, the company offers vaccines and biological and pharmaceutical animal health products to animal health companies and veterinarians. Heska Corp. has a market cap of  $791.53 million and does not pay a dividend yield. Its stock has a high price-to-sales ratio of 6.36, placing itself in the overpriced category. It also has a very high trailing P/E ratio of 113.26 and lower forward P/E ratio of 59.52. The stock also has a price-to-book ratio of 7.80. The company’s revenue increased each fiscal year from 2013 to 2016 before taking a very slight dip in 2017. Still, the company enjoys a 3-year revenue growth rate of 12.92% and a 5-year revenue growth rate of 12.18%.

Disclosure: Author did not own any of the above stocks at the time the article was written.