Dressed to Impress: UniFirst Stock Outshines the Competition

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

UniFirst Corporation (NYSE:UNF) is an interesting company. This company provides workplace uniforms and protective workwear clothing primarily in the United States, Canada, and Europe. It operates through U.S. Rental and Cleaning, Canadian Rental and Cleaning, Manufacturing, Specialty Garments Rental and Cleaning, and First Aid segments, all of which serve different customers. The company designs, manufactures, personalizes, rents, cleans, delivers, and sells a range of uniforms and protective clothing, including shirts, pants, jackets, coveralls, lab coats, smocks, aprons, and specialized protective wear, such as flame resistant and high visibility garments. It also rents industrial wiping products, floor mats, facility service products, dry and wet mops, as well as restroom and cleaning supplies comprising air fresheners, paper products, and hand soaps.

The company faces some tight competition from Aramark (NYSE:ARMK) and Cintas Corporation (NASDAQ:CTAS). Both Aramark and Cintas also design, manufacture, personalize, rent, clean, deliver, and sell a range of uniforms and protective clothing, including shirts, pants, jackets, coveralls, lab coats, smocks, aprons, and specialized protective wear. Interestingly, UniFirst is the cheapest of the three companies. Cintas trades at 23.8 times earnings, Aramark trades at 46.4 times earnings, whereas UniFirst trades at more reasonable 18.2 times earnings. Compared to Aramark and Cintas, UniFirst is also the smaller of the companies on a market capitalization basis. However, it is probably the best stock of the three to buy and does more than just textile services.

UniFirst is diversified. The company also provides first aid cabinet services and other safety supplies to companies. It further decontaminates and cleans work clothes and other items that may have been exposed to radioactive materials, and services special clean room protective wear and facilities. UniFirst offers a range of garment service options, including full-service rental programs in which garments are cleaned and serviced. It offers lease programs in which garments are cleaned and maintained by individual employees and purchase programs to buy garments and related items directly.

Like Aramark and Cintas, UniFirst serves a number of different customers. Specifically, UniFirst works with automobile service centers and dealers, delivery services, food and general merchandise retailers, food processors and service operations, light manufacturers, maintenance facilities, restaurants, service companies, soft and durable goods wholesalers, transportation companies, government agencies, research and development laboratories, high technology companies, and utilities operating nuclear reactors. But why consider the stock?