Sunday, April 23rd, 2017

Four More American Hero Companies, Building a Brighter America

Thursday, September 3rd, 2015

As we've described previous ly , we at American Values Investments carry our research an important extra step -- or three steps , actually -- beyond the typical analytical process. In addition to the usual financial, economic, corporate, and industry vetting, we carefully examine each company's overall quality as it relates to a set of three values: Integrity, Caring, and Courage.

Those corporations that achieve a minimum of 390 points from a potential composite of 500 from those criteria are likely to join the ranks of what we term "American Hero" companies. And, while there are no guarantees, we believe that company quality almost always leads to strength, which in turn makes for higher-than-normal staying power and potentially reduced financial volatility. More importantly, we are convinced that values-driven companies play a key role in benefitting our great nation .  

We're ever in search of "heroic" additions to our portfolios. During the past couple of weeks, four companies that we've examined closely have passed our Hero threshold. The group consists, in alphabetical order, of Flowers Foods (FLO) ; Hologic , Inc. (HOLX) ; Tyler Technologies (TYL) ; and Virtusa Corporation (VRTU). To provide you with a more tangible sense of the elements -- or values -- that separate Hero companies from run-of-the-mill corporations, let's take a brief look at each of these new selections.  

Flowers Foods  

Thomasville, Georgia, a town of about 20,000 that sits virtually atop Florida's panhandle, is the headquarters of Flowers Foods . The company m akes and market s a host of baked goods through a pair of segments: direct-store-delivery and warehouse delivery. It's well-known brands include Nature's Own, Wonder, Whitewheat, Cobblestone, Tastycake, Home Pride and Merita. It also franchises and licenses such other brands as Sunbeam, Roman Meal, and Country Kitchen.

A couple of statements attributable to the company are representative of its strongly values-driven approach to its business:     

"The Flowers way is about fostering team spirit, appreciating diversity, and making advancement opportunities available to team members." And ,

"Flowers Foods celebrates the positive spirit that is alive in our company through our employees. The Flowers Spirit is one of integrity and dedication to a job well done. It encourages others and inspires them to do their best. It's about caring for those with whom you work , as well as for your community and neighbors through charitable actions."    

Flowers has brought those statements to life by, for instance, donating $4 million in baked goods to local food banks. And through its Wonder Bread brand, it is partnering with the Children's Miracle Network to benefit those suffering from common childhood afflictions, birth defects, and such other pernicious ailments as cancer. It does so through contributions to children's hospitals and medical research centers. At the same time, the company operates The Flowers Foods Sons & Daughters Scholarship Program, which provides college scholarship money for its own employees' children.  

And while the billionaire Koch Brothers would likely be tabbed in most surveys for managing the most Republican-leaning of compan ies , that response would actually be incorrect. According to The New York Times, during the past three-and-a-half decades the political action committee at Flowers Foods has targeted 99% of its contributions to Republican causes and candidates.  

Hologic , Inc.

Another new American Values Hero company is Bedford, Massachusetts-based Hologic, Inc . The company provides diagnostic products, medical imaging systems, and surgical products for women , both in the United States and abroad. Specifically, the company's four segments are diagnostics, breast health, GYN surgical, and skeletal health.  

Hologic's list of values highlights is a long one . However , the quote that most signifies management's approach to its business is, "At Hologic, we turn passion into action and action into change. Hologic is defining the standard of care in women's health. Our technologies help doctors see better, know sooner, reach further, and touch more lives. " Beyond that, at a recent March of Dimes event, company employees could be spotted wearing T-shirts bearing the legend, "Keep Calm and Carry on to Term." Those same employees are eligible for $3,000 expense reimbursement s , should they choose to adopt a child.

Tyler Technologies  

A one-time Hero company, Dallas area-based Tyler Technologies , has recently been reexamined by American Values analysts, and subsequently has rejoined the Hero ranks. Tyler is a somewhat unusual corporation, in that its services are directed almost exclusively toward local governments throughout the United States and internationally. Those services are provided through two segments: enterprise software solutions and appraisal , and tax software solutions and services.  

The company's charitable Tyler Foundation has supported a host of causes, such as Habitat for Humanity, the Salvation Army, and Meals on Wheels. Forbes has named Tyler one of "America's Best Small Companies" eight separate times, and on six occasions the company has been named to Barron's 400 Index, a measure of America's most promising companies.

Virtusa Corporation

It's now back to Massachusetts -- Westborough this time -- to find the corporate headquarters of Virtusa Corporation , our fourth Hero addition . The company, which was founded less than 20 years ago, provides a wide array of information technology services to its corporate customers .      

Among Virtusa's values-related programs and achievements is its 2015 sponsorship of Little Wanderers, a provider of a seamless continuum of vital programs and services for every stage of child and family development. Also this year, the company has been honored by Achievers -- a provider of platforms for increasing employee rewards and recognition -- as one of the " 50 Most Engaged Workplaces in North America. "

More about the author, David Lee Smith

As a consultant and contributing author for American Values Investments, Inc. David Lee Smith is an economist, investment analyst, and writer.  He and his wife, Virginia, are active members of Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church and often enjoy attending sporting events especially UT football, basketball and tennis. 

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