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Do AstroNova's (NASDAQ:ALOT) Earnings Warrant Your Attention?

Simply Wall St

Like a puppy chasing its tail, some new investors often chase 'the next big thing', even if that means buying 'story stocks' without revenue, let alone profit. And in their study titled Who Falls Prey to the Wolf of Wall Street?' Leuz et. al. found that it is 'quite common' for investors to lose money by buying into 'pump and dump' schemes.

So if you're like me, you might be more interested in profitable, growing companies, like AstroNova (NASDAQ:ALOT). 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.

See our latest analysis for AstroNova

AstroNova's Earnings Per Share Are Growing.

If you believe that markets are even vaguely efficient, then over the long term you'd expect a company's share price to follow its earnings per share (EPS). It's no surprise, then, that I like to invest in companies with EPS growth. Over the last three years, AstroNova has grown EPS by 15% per year. That growth rate is fairly good, assuming the company can keep it up.

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. AstroNova maintained stable EBIT margins over the last year, all while growing revenue 11% to US$141m. That's progress.

The chart below shows how the company's bottom and top lines have progressed over time. To see the actual numbers, click on the chart.

NasdaqGM:ALOT Income Statement, September 26th 2019

Since AstroNova is no giant, with a market capitalization of US$111m, so you should definitely check its cash and debt before getting too excited about its prospects.

Are AstroNova Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?

Like the kids in the streets standing up for their beliefs, insider share purchases give me reason to believe in a brighter future. That's because insider buying often indicates that those closest to the company have confidence that the share price will perform well. However, insiders are sometimes wrong, and we don't know the exact thinking behind their acquisitions.

We haven't seen any insiders selling AstroNova shares, in the last year. With that in mind, it's heartening that Richard Warzala, the Lead Independent Director of the company, paid US$49k for shares at around US$16.35 each.

On top of the insider buying, it's good to see that AstroNova insiders have a valuable investment in the business. Indeed, they hold US$13m worth of its stock. That shows significant buy-in, and may indicate conviction in the business strategy. Those holdings account for over 11% of the company; visible skin in the game.

Is AstroNova Worth Keeping An Eye On?

As I already mentioned, AstroNova is a growing business, which is what I like to see. Better yet, insiders are significant shareholders, and have been buying more shares. That makes the company a prime candidate for my watchlist - and arguably a research priority. While we've looked at the quality of the earnings, we haven't yet done any work to value the stock. So if you like to buy cheap, you may want to check if AstroNova is trading on a high P/E or a low P/E, relative to its industry.

The good news is that AstroNova is not the only growth stock with insider buying. Here's a list of them... 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

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. 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.