Top Performers: 7 High-Efficiency Stocks With Stellar Profit Per Employee Ratios

Stocks to buy

Inundated with myriad ways of assessing publicly traded companies, one unique metric could intrigue investors seeking opportunities in 2024 and that would be high-efficiency stocks. However, rather than focusing on a financial multiple such as sales or earnings, market research specialist Agency Reviews targeted profit per employee.

According to its list of high-efficiency stocks, in the fiscal year ended March 31, “the world’s top 500 companies collectively raked in a staggering $41 trillion in revenue, yielding a formidable $2.9 trillion in profit.”

With a workforce over 700 million people, the average profit per employee comes out to $41,300. However, some enterprises are much more efficient on a per-worker basis and that might translate to superior long-term performance.

Now, as with any metric such as price-earnings or price-to-sales ratios, you must be careful about assigning too much weight into a single gauge. Further, it’s difficult to make comparisons across sectors due to different fundamentals. As well, not all companies posting net losses should be presumed to be inefficient laggards.

Nevertheless, this fresh framework provides an interesting comparison between closely related peers. On that note, below are high-efficiency stocks based on profit per employee.

ConocoPhillips (COP)

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What it is: A multinational corporation engaged in hydrocarbon exploration and production (upstream), ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP) might seem to be losing its pertinence due to the political and ideological winds favoring green energy initiatives. However, the world continues to run on fossil fuels.

Relevance: According to Agency Reviews, ConocoPhillips lands as number one in terms of high-efficiency stocks. In fiscal year 2022, the company posted net income of $18.7 billion. At the same time, it boasted a workforce of 9,500 employees. These figures yield a profit per employee of $1.97 million. It’s easily the powerhouse in the energy sector, thus warranting a closer look.

Pros: Notably, ConocoPhillips also prints a three-year revenue growth rate of 28.4%, blowing past nearly 81% of its rivals. It also features a price/earnings-to-growth (PEG) ratio of 0.53X, lower than the sector median 0.92X.

Cons: Recent sales performances have dipped conspicuously so investors need to be cautious of outside pressures impacting hydrocarbon players.

Apple (AAPL)

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What it is: A company that needs no introduction because you probably use its products on a daily basis, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) stands alone as a consumer technology giant. And while it’s not nearly as efficient as energy players based on profit per employee, it is the most efficient among non-energy, non-government-associated enterprises.

Relevance: Per Agency Reviews, Apple lands at number 13 in terms of employee-focused high-efficiency stocks. Apple posted net income of $99.8 billion in FY 2022 (ended September). At the time, it boasted a workforce of 164,000 people. Therefore, its profit per employee came out to $609,000. It also helps that consumers can’t get enough of Apple-branded smart devices.

Pros: Despite being a mature idea among high-efficiency stocks, it continues to print an impressive three-year revenue growth rate of 15.7%. As well, Apple enjoys robust margins across the board. Unsurprisingly, it’s consistently profitable.

Cons: If there’s something to nitpick, AAPL runs rich multiples. For example, it trades at a lofty 29.33X forward earnings.

D.R. Horton (DHI)

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What it is: A home construction company, D.R. Horton (NYSE:DHI) and the rest of the industry has been in the crosshairs of economists and various market pundits. With low interest rates driving intense demand for real estate, sales blossomed for D.R. Horton. However, the combo of high inflation and high borrowing costs imposes an ambiguous cloud over the business.

Relevance: While many questions exist about DHI, it’s notable for its standing as one of the high-efficiency stocks. Per the market research specialist, the company lands at number 16. In FY 2022 (ended September), the homebuilder posted net income of nearly $5.9 billion. At the time, it had 13,237 people on its payroll. That yields a profit per employee of $443,000.

Pros: So long as the housing shortage fuels buyer demand, DHI seemingly stands on solid ground. It’s been on a blistering run since late October.

Cons: Despite the encouraging rally, DHI may impose bag-holding concerns if economic headwinds sideline would-be buyers.

American International Group (AIG)

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What it is: Founded in 1919, American International Group (NYSE:AIG) is a multinational finance and insurance corporation. Per its public profile, it features operations in more than 80 countries and jurisdictions. While not the most exciting enterprise, AIG commands a pertinent business that may be able to negotiate turbulent waters.

Relevance: Perhaps an oddball name that many investors wouldn’t think of as belonging to a list of high-efficiency stocks, AIG secured the number-17 slot. At the end of fiscal 2022, the company posted net income of $10.3 billion. During that snapshot, the company carried a workforce of 26,200 people. That yielded a profit per employee of $392,000. Significantly, it stands out among financial businesses.

Pros: Currently, AIG runs a three-year EBITDA growth rate of 25%, beating out nearly 81% of rivals. Also, it enjoys an above average net margin of 8.14%.

Cons: It could use some work in the balance sheet, particularly its high debt level compared to cash.

Pfizer (PFE)

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What it is: A multinational pharmaceutical and biotechnology firm, Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) already ranked among the top players in the industry. However, it truly soared to prominence thanks to its efforts in forwarding a Covid-19 vaccine. Unfortunately for stakeholders, faded fears of the SARS-CoV-2 virus led to a severe erosion of equity value.

Relevance: One possible avenue for success is that Pfizer could leverage its technologies to advance new therapeutics and vaccines. While that’s a speculative proposition, what’s a sure thing is that the company posted net income of $31.4 billion in 2022. With a workforce of 83,000, Pfizer’s profit per employee came out to $378,000. Therefore, it’s easily one of the high-efficiency stocks within the broader healthcare umbrella.

Pros: PFE is also significantly undervalued on paper. For instance, shares trade at only 8.78X forward earnings, far lower than the sector median 14.53X.

Cons: Pfizer’s relevance needs to come to the forefront soon because of severe market erosion.

Netflix (NFLX)

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What it is: A company that revolutionized the entertainment media landscape, Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) initially started off as a platform enabling convenient consumption of content. Later, it helped popularize the concept of on-demand video via streaming. Now, the company is also known for its groundbreaking original content.

Relevance: Along with dominating the entertainment industry and shifting paradigms within the ecosystem, Netflix also has the distinction of being one of the high-efficiency stocks. In 2022, the company posted net income of $4.5 billion. At the time, it had 12,800 employees on its payroll, yielding a $351,000 profit per employee. That’s only going to make its media rivals even more jealous.

Pros: While Netflix has endured challenges due to competitive pressures, it’s still a top-tier performer. For example, its three-year revenue growth rate clocks in at 16.2%, beating out 84% of its peers. And it’s consistently profitable.

Cons: Given the dominance of the company, NFLX doesn’t come cheap, priced at nearly 31X forward earnings.

Meta Platforms (META)

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What it is: Leveraging the largest social media network in the world, Meta Platforms (NASDAQ:META) is – if we assume no catastrophic implosion – permanently relevant thanks to Facebook. With over 3 billion monthly active users (MAUs), the network represents a big data goldmine. As well, Meta has transitioned into a tech juggernaut.

Relevance: While it’s not the most heralded tech enterprise when it comes to high-efficiency stocks, Meta more than holds its own. In 2022, the company posted net income of $23.2 billion. At the time, it featured a headcount of 86,482 on its payroll. These metrics yielded a profit per employee of $268,000, landing it on the number 24 spot.

Pros: Meta continues to impress onlookers, particularly with a three-year revenue growth rate of 20.6%. That stat ranks better than 70.13% of companies in the interactive media space. Also, it features robust operating and net margins.

Cons: META isn’t overly expensive but it’s not cheap, priced at 31.3X trailing-year earnings.

On the date of publication, Josh Enomoto did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.

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