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Could The carsales.com Ltd (ASX:CAR) Ownership Structure Tell Us Something Useful?

Simply Wall St

If you want to know who really controls carsales.com Ltd (ASX:CAR), then you'll have to look at the makeup of its share registry. Institutions will often hold stock in bigger companies, and we expect to see insiders owning a noticeable percentage of the smaller ones. I generally like to see some degree of insider ownership, even if only a little. As Nassim Nicholas Taleb said, 'Don’t tell me what you think, tell me what you have in your portfolio.

With a market capitalization of AU$3.7b, carsales.com is a decent size, so it is probably on the radar of institutional investors. In the chart below below, we can see that institutions are noticeable on the share registry. Let's take a closer look to see what the different types of shareholder can tell us about CAR.

View our latest analysis for carsales.com

ASX:CAR Ownership Summary, October 9th 2019

What Does The Institutional Ownership Tell Us About carsales.com?

Institutions typically measure themselves against a benchmark when reporting to their own investors, so they often become more enthusiastic about a stock once it's included in a major index. We would expect most companies to have some institutions on the register, especially if they are growing.

carsales.com already has institutions on the share registry. Indeed, they own 49% of the company. This can indicate that the company has a certain degree of credibility in the investment community. However, it is best to be wary of relying on the supposed validation that comes with institutional investors. They too, get it wrong sometimes. When multiple institutions own a stock, there's always a risk that they are in a 'crowded trade'. When such a trade goes wrong, multiple parties may compete to sell stock fast. This risk is higher in a company without a history of growth. You can see carsales.com's historic earnings and revenue, below, but keep in mind there's always more to the story.

ASX:CAR Income Statement, October 9th 2019

We note that hedge funds don't have a meaningful investment in carsales.com. Quite a few analysts cover the stock, so you could look into forecast growth quite easily.

Insider Ownership Of carsales.com

While the precise definition of an insider can be subjective, almost everyone considers board members to be insiders. The company management answer to the board; and the latter should represent the interests of shareholders. Notably, sometimes top-level managers are on the board, themselves.

Most consider insider ownership a positive because it can indicate the board is well aligned with other shareholders. However, on some occasions too much power is concentrated within this group.

Shareholders would probably be interested to learn that insiders own shares in carsales.com Ltd. This is a big company, so it is good to see this level of alignment. Insiders own AU$265m worth of shares (at current prices). It is good to see this level of investment by insiders. You can check here to see if those insiders have been buying recently.

General Public Ownership

With a 41% ownership, the general public have some degree of sway over CAR. While this group can't necessarily call the shots, it can certainly have a real influence on how the company is run.

Next Steps:

It's always worth thinking about the different groups who own shares in a company. But to understand carsales.com better, we need to consider many other factors.

I like to dive deeper into how a company has performed in the past. You can find historic revenue and earnings in this detailed graph.

If you would prefer discover what analysts are predicting in terms of future growth, do not miss this free report on analyst forecasts.

NB: Figures in this article are calculated using data from the last twelve months, which refer to the 12-month period ending on the last date of the month the financial statement is dated. This may not be consistent with full year annual report figures.

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.