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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 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 contrast to all that, I prefer to spend time on companies like STAAR Surgical (NASDAQ:STAA), which has not only revenues, but also profits. While profit is not necessarily a social good, it's easy to admire a business that can consistently produce it. Conversely, a loss-making company is yet to prove itself with profit, and eventually the sweet milk of external capital may run sour.
How Fast Is STAAR Surgical Growing Its Earnings Per Share?
In the last three years STAAR Surgical's earnings per share took off like a rocket; fast, and from a low base. So the actual rate of growth doesn't tell us much. As a result, I'll zoom in on growth over the last year, instead. Like the last firework on New Year's Eve accelerating into the sky, STAAR Surgical's EPS shot from US$0.17 to US$0.45, over the last year. You don't see 167% year-on-year growth like that, very often. The best case scenario? That the business has hit a true inflection point.
One way to double-check a company's growth is to look at how its revenue, and earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) margins are changing. The good news is that STAAR Surgical is growing revenues, and EBIT margins improved by 10.0 percentage points to 13%, over the last year. That's great to see, on both counts.
In the chart below, you can see how the company has grown earnings, and revenue, over time. Click on the chart to see the exact numbers.
Of course the knack is to find stocks that have their best days in the future, not in the past. You could base your opinion on past performance, of course, but you may also want to check this interactive graph of professional analyst EPS forecasts for STAAR Surgical.
Are STAAR Surgical Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?
Since STAAR Surgical has a market capitalization of US$6.5b, we wouldn't expect insiders to hold a large percentage of shares. But we do take comfort from the fact that they are investors in the company. Indeed, they hold US$48m worth of its stock. That's a lot of money, and no small incentive to work hard. Even though that's only about 0.8% of the company, it's enough money to indicate alignment between the leaders of the business and ordinary shareholders.
It means a lot to see insiders invested in the business, but I find myself wondering if remuneration policies are shareholder friendly. Well, based on the CEO pay, I'd say they are indeed. I discovered that the median total compensation for the CEOs of companies like STAAR Surgical with market caps between US$4.0b and US$12b is about US$6.5m.
The CEO of STAAR Surgical only received US$3.0m in total compensation for the year ending . That's clearly well below average, so at a glance, that arrangement seems generous to shareholders, and points to a modest remuneration culture. 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.
Is STAAR Surgical Worth Keeping An Eye On?
STAAR Surgical's earnings per share growth have been levitating higher, like a mountain goat scaling the Alps. The cherry on top is that insiders own a bucket-load of shares, and the CEO pay seems really quite reasonable. The sharp increase in earnings could signal good business momentum. STAAR Surgical certainly ticks a few of my boxes, so I think it's probably well worth further consideration. We don't want to rain on the parade too much, but we did also find 1 warning sign for STAAR Surgical that you need to be mindful of.
Although STAAR Surgical certainly looks good to me, I would like it more if insiders were buying up shares. If you like to see insider buying, too, then this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying, could be exactly what you're looking for.
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. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. 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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