For beginners, it can seem like a good idea (and an exciting prospect) to buy a company that tells a good story to investors, even if it completely lacks a track record of revenue and profit. But as Peter Lynch said in One Up On Wall Street, 'Long shots almost never pay off.'
In the age of tech-stock blue-sky investing, my choice may seem old fashioned; I still prefer profitable companies like Houlihan Lokey (NYSE:HLI). Now, I'm not saying that the stock is necessarily undervalued today; but I can't shake an appreciation for the profitability of the business itself. While a well funded company may sustain losses for years, unless its owners have an endless appetite for subsidizing the customer, it will need to generate a profit eventually, or else breathe its last breath.
How Quickly Is Houlihan Lokey Increasing Earnings Per Share?
As one of my mentors once told me, share price follows earnings per share (EPS). It's no surprise, then, that I like to invest in companies with EPS growth. It certainly is nice to see that Houlihan Lokey has managed to grow EPS by 31% per year over three years. If the company can sustain that sort of growth, we'd expect shareholders to come away winners.
I like to take a look at earnings before interest and (EBIT) tax margins, as well as revenue growth, to get another take on the quality of the company's growth. While we note Houlihan Lokey's EBIT margins were flat over the last year, revenue grew by a solid 15% to US$1.1b. That's a real positive.
You can take a look at the company's revenue and earnings growth trend, in the chart below. To see the actual numbers, click on the chart.
While we live in the present moment at all times, there's no doubt in my mind that the future matters more than the past. So why not check this interactive chart depicting future EPS estimates, for Houlihan Lokey?
Are Houlihan Lokey Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?
I like company leaders to have some skin in the game, so to speak, because it increases alignment of incentives between the people running the business, and its true owners. As a result, I'm encouraged by the fact that insiders own Houlihan Lokey shares worth a considerable sum. Indeed, they have a glittering mountain of wealth invested in it, currently valued at US$850m. Coming in at 28% of the business, that holding gives insiders a lot of influence, and plenty of reason to generate value for shareholders. So it might be my imagination, but I do sense the glimmer of an opportunity.
Does Houlihan Lokey Deserve A Spot On Your Watchlist?
For growth investors like me, Houlihan Lokey's raw rate of earnings growth is a beacon in the night. I think that EPS growth is something to boast of, and it doesn't surprise me that insiders are holding on to a considerable chunk of shares. So this is very likely the kind of business that I like to spend time researching, with a view to discerning its true value. If you think Houlihan Lokey might suit your style as an investor, you could go straight to its annual report, or you could first check our discounted cash flow (DCF) valuation for the company.
You can invest in any company you want. But if you prefer to focus on stocks that have demonstrated insider buying, here is a list of companies with insider buying in the last three months.
Please note the insider transactions discussed in this article refer to reportable transactions in the relevant jurisdiction
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If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.