Margins matter. The more Rockwell Collins (NYSE: COL) keeps of each buck it earns in revenue, the more money it has to invest in growth, fund new strategic plans, or (gasp!) distribute to shareholders. Healthy margins often separate pretenders from the best stocks in the market. That's why I check on my holdings' margins at least once a quarter. I'm looking for the absolute numbers, comparisons with sector peers and competitors, and any trend that may tell me how strong Rockwell Collins' competitive position could be.
There's no foolproof way to know the future for Rockwell Collins (NYSE: COL) or any other company. However, certain clues may help you see potential stumbles before they happen -- and before your stock craters as a result. Rest assured: Even if you're not monitoring these metrics, short-sellers are.
Although business headlines still tout earnings numbers, many investors have moved past net earnings as a measure of a company's economic output. That's because earnings are very often less trustworthy than cash flow, since earnings are more open to manipulation based on dubious judgment calls.