What's Going on at Idexx Laboratories?

By Markets Fool.com

Quickly and accurately diagnosing a pet's health is critical to veterinarians, who frequently rely on products sold by IDEXX Laboratories (NASDAQ: IDXX) to do that. Idexx Laboratories is already the market share-leading maker of pet diagnostic products and sales are growing thanks to owners who are increasingly willing to make sacrifices to pay for healthcare for their pets. Do these tailwinds make Idexx Laboratories worth owning in portfolios?

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In this clip from The Motley Fool'sIndustry Focus: Healthcarepodcast,analyst Kristine Harjes and contributor Todd Campbell take a closer look at this promising pet stock and weigh in with their thoughts on whether this is a good time to buy.

A full transcript follows the video.

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This podcast was recorded on Aug. 31, 2016.

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Kristine Harjes: One more company to add to your watch list is called IDEXX Laboratories. These guys are in the market of animal-health testing and analytics. They mostly do diagnostics within their companion-animal group segment. They also do some tests for livestock and water quality and dairy animals, poultry, that kind of segment. But really, what they do is provide in-house analyzers and diagnostic equipment to these vets, so they can analyze what's going on with your pet. In particular, the in-house segment of that is really intriguing, because if a vet can deliver the results right back to you immediately, that's really sticky. And they do have customer retention of 96% to 99%.

It's a win-win-win. It's a win for the vet, because it's greater customer satisfaction, it keeps people coming back, it's a quicker turnover for them. It's a win for the customer, because they can get the answers they're looking for quicker. And, it's a win for IDEXX as well.

Todd Campbell:Again, we're talking about a company that does a fair amount of revenue. This is a company with $1.7 billion in trailing-12-month sales. That's great. It's a profitable company, which is also great for investors to know. Investors may also want to know that this isn't necessarily a cheap stock; this isn't one that's been running under the radar that they can buy on sale. I think the forward P/E ratio for this stock is around 40, so you might want to throw this one on a watch list to see whether or not it pulls back.

But I think if you're talking long-term, and you're saying, "If we understand, as humans, when we go in, we want immediate feedback on what's wrong with us, and we assume pet care is going to be similar -- when we go to the vet, we're going to want to know what's wrong with our cats or dogs as soon as possible" -- I think that's a really good opportunity for this company to grow over time. Management of the company has said they expect to grow sales 10% annually from here, and their earnings should grow faster than that as they leverage those additional sales.

Harjes:So, this is a fast-growing company. But like you mentioned, it's not exactly a cheap one. They're up 53% year to date. If you got in in January, congratulations -- that's a fantastic return over the last eight months or so. Even just this month, a great second-quarter report pushed this stock up another 13%. Whether or not it's a good time to get in now... you know as well as I do that you never want to try to time the market like that. But this is definitely a company that, for me, I would put it on a watch list and wait for the price to go down a little bit.

Campbell:I agree. I think that makes sense. You want to invest in what you know, but you don't want to blindly invest. The reality is, stocks do go up, and they do go down. A lot of this is going to have to do with your time horizon. I think, overall, the demand for caring for pets globally is on the rise, and that's going to provide natural tailwinds that make all these companies interesting.

Harjes:Exactly. It's the same thing that you see in the human-health market. This is kind of similar. I guess that's why we're talking about it on theHealthcareshow. This is an industry that is relatively immune to recession, much like you see in human healthcare. It doesn't matter if times are good or bad economically. If you need to take care of a person or a pet that you view as a member of the family, you're going to spend that money.

Kristine Harjes has no position in any stocks mentioned. Todd Campbell has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Idexx Laboratories. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. 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.