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Does American Water Works Company (NYSE:AWK) Deserve A Spot On Your Watchlist?

Simply Wall St

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Some have more dollars than sense, they say, so even companies that have no revenue, no profit, and a record of falling short, can easily find investors. Unfortunately, high risk investments often have little probability of ever paying off, and many investors pay a price to learn their lesson.

So if you're like me, you might be more interested in profitable, growing companies, like American Water Works Company (NYSE:AWK). Even if the shares are fully valued today, most capitalists would recognize its profits as the demonstration of steady value generation. Conversely, a loss-making company is yet to prove itself with profit, and eventually the sweet milk of external capital may run sour.

View our latest analysis for American Water Works Company

How Fast Is American Water Works Company Growing?

If a company can keep growing earnings per share (EPS) long enough, its share price will eventually follow. That makes EPS growth an attractive quality for any company. We can see that in the last three years American Water Works Company grew its EPS by 5.9% per year. That might not be particularly high growth, but it does show that per-share earnings are moving steadily in the right direction.

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. While American Water Works Company did well to grow revenue over the last year, EBIT margins were dampened at the same time. So if EBIT margins can stabilize, this top-line growth should pay off for shareholders.

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.

NYSE:AWK Income Statement, May 13th 2019

In investing, as in life, the future matters more than the past. So why not check out this free interactive visualization of American Water Works Company's forecast profits?.

Are American Water Works Company Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?

Like that fresh smell in the air when the rains are coming, insider buying fills me with optimistic anticipation. Because oftentimes, the purchase of stock is a sign that the buyer views it as undervalued. However, insiders are sometimes wrong, and we don't know the exact thinking behind their acquisitions.

Not only did American Water Works Company insiders refrain from selling stock during the year, but they also spent US$100k buying it. That puts the company in a nice light, as it makes me think its leaders are feeling confident. It is also worth noting that it was Non-Executive Chairman Karl Kurz who made the biggest single purchase, worth US$91k, paying US$91.30 per share.

Along with the insider buying, another encouraging sign for American Water Works Company is that insiders, as a group, have a considerable shareholding. To be specific, they have US$42m worth of shares. That shows significant buy-in, and may indicate conviction in the business strategy. Even though that's only about 0.2% of the company, it's enough money to indicate alignment between the leaders of the business and ordinary shareholders.

While insiders are apparently happy to hold and accumulate shares, that is just part of the pretty picture. That's because on our analysis the CEO, Susan Story, is paid less than the median for similar sized companies. For companies with market capitalizations over US$8.0b, like American Water Works Company, the median CEO pay is around US$11m.

The American Water Works Company CEO received total compensation of just US$5.0m in the year to December 2018. That looks like modest pay to me, and may hint at a certain respect for the interests of shareholders. CEO compensation is hardly the most important aspect of a company to consider, but when its reasonable that does give me a little more confidence that leadership are looking out for shareholder interests. I'd also argue reasonable pay levels attest to good decision making more generally.

Should You Add American Water Works Company To Your Watchlist?

As I already mentioned, American Water Works Company is a growing business, which is what I like to see. On top of that, we've seen insiders buying shares even though they already own plenty. To me, that all makes it well worth a spot on your watchlist, as well as continuing research. Of course, just because American Water Works Company is growing does not mean it is undervalued. If you're wondering about the valuation, check out this gauge of its price-to-earnings ratio, as compared to its industry.

There are plenty of other companies that have insiders buying up shares. So if you like the sound of American Water Works Company, you'll probably love this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying.

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.