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It's only natural that many investors, especially those who are new to the game, prefer to buy shares in 'sexy' stocks with a good story, even if those businesses lose money. But as Warren Buffett has mused, 'If you've been playing poker for half an hour and you still don't know who the patsy is, you're the patsy.' When they buy such story stocks, investors are all too often the patsy.
In the age of tech-stock blue-sky investing, my choice may seem old fashioned; I still prefer profitable companies like Sandy Spring Bancorp (NASDAQ:SASR). Even if the shares are fully valued today, most capitalists would recognize its profits as the demonstration of steady value generation. In comparison, loss making companies act like a sponge for capital - but unlike such a sponge they do not always produce something when squeezed.
Sandy Spring Bancorp's Earnings Per Share Are Growing.
As one of my mentors once told me, share price follows earnings per share (EPS). That makes EPS growth an attractive quality for any company. Impressively, Sandy Spring Bancorp has grown EPS by 28% per year, compound, in the last three years. As a general rule, we'd say that if a company can keep up that sort of growth, shareholders will be smiling.
Careful consideration of revenue growth and earnings before interest and taxation (EBIT) margins can help inform a view on the sustainability of the recent profit growth. Not all of Sandy Spring Bancorp's revenue this year is revenue from operations, so keep in mind the revenue and margin numbers I've used might not be the best representation of the underlying business. While we note Sandy Spring Bancorp's EBIT margins were flat over the last year, revenue grew by a solid 94% to US$563m. That's progress.
You can take a look at the company's revenue and earnings growth trend, in the chart below. Click on the chart to see the exact numbers.
Fortunately, we've got access to analyst forecasts of Sandy Spring Bancorp's future profits. You can do your own forecasts without looking, or you can take a peek at what the professionals are predicting.
Are Sandy Spring Bancorp 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. So it is good to see that Sandy Spring Bancorp insiders have a significant amount of capital invested in the stock. Given insiders own a small fortune of shares, currently valued at US$60m, they have plenty of motivation to push the business to succeed. This should keep them focused on creating long term value for shareholders.
It's good to see that insiders are invested in the company, but are remuneration levels reasonable? A brief analysis of the CEO compensation suggests they are. For companies with market capitalizations between US$1.0b and US$3.2b, like Sandy Spring Bancorp, the median CEO pay is around US$3.7m.
The Sandy Spring Bancorp CEO received US$2.4m in compensation for the year ending . That seems pretty reasonable, especially given its below the median for similar sized companies. CEO remuneration levels are not the most important metric for investors, but when the pay is modest, that does support enhanced alignment between the CEO and the ordinary shareholders. It can also be a sign of a culture of integrity, in a broader sense.
Should You Add Sandy Spring Bancorp To Your Watchlist?
You can't deny that Sandy Spring Bancorp has grown its earnings per share at a very impressive rate. That's attractive. If you need more convincing beyond that EPS growth rate, don't forget about the reasonable remuneration and the high insider ownership. Each to their own, but I think all this makes Sandy Spring Bancorp look rather interesting indeed. Still, you should learn about the 1 warning sign we've spotted with Sandy Spring Bancorp .
Of course, you can do well (sometimes) buying stocks that are not growing earnings and do not have insiders buying shares. But as a growth investor I always like to check out companies that do have those features. You can access a free list of them here.
Please note the insider transactions discussed in this article refer to reportable transactions in the relevant jurisdiction.
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. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.
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