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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 Camden National (NASDAQ:CAC). While profit is not necessarily a social good, it's easy to admire a business than 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.
Camden National'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. It certainly is nice to see that Camden National has managed to grow EPS by 24% per year over three years. If the company can sustain that sort of growth, we'd expect shareholders to come away winners.
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 Camden National'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. Camden National maintained stable EBIT margins over the last year, all while growing revenue 4.6% to US$160m. That's progress.
In the chart below, you can see how the company has grown earnings, and revenue, over time. For finer detail, click on the image.
Fortunately, we've got access to analyst forecasts of Camden National's future profits. You can do your own forecasts without looking, or you can take a peek at what the professionals are predicting.
Are Camden National Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?
Like standing at the lookout, surveying the horizon at sunrise, insider buying, for some investors, sparks joy. That's because insider buying often indicates that those closest to the company have confidence that the share price will perform well. Of course, we can never be sure what insiders are thinking, we can only judge their actions.
Camden National insiders both bought and sold shares over the last twelve months, but they did end up spending US$45k more on stock than they received from selling it. When you weigh that up, it is a mild positive, indicating increased alignment between shareholders and management. We also note that it was the Director, Carl Soderberg, who made the biggest single acquisition, paying US$110k for shares at about US$36.71 each.
The good news, alongside the insider buying, for Camden National bulls is that insiders (collectively) have a meaningful investment in the stock. To be specific, they have US$16m worth of shares. That's a lot of money, and no small incentive to work hard. Even though that's only about 2.4% of the company, it's enough money to indicate alignment between the leaders of the business and ordinary shareholders.
While insiders already own a significant amount of shares, and they have been buying more, the good news for ordinary shareholders does not stop there. That's because on our analysis the CEO, Greg Dufour, is paid less than the median for similar sized companies. I discovered that the median total compensation for the CEOs of companies like Camden National with market caps between US$400m and US$1.6b is about US$2.7m.
Camden National offered total compensation worth US$1.6m to its CEO in the year to December 2018. That comes in below the average for similar sized companies, and seems pretty reasonable to me. While the level of CEO compensation isn't a huge factor in my view of the company, modest remuneration is a positive, because it suggests that the board keeps shareholder interests in mind. It can also be a sign of good governance, more generally.
Should You Add Camden National To Your Watchlist?
For growth investors like me, Camden National's raw rate of earnings growth is a beacon in the night. On top of that, insiders own a significant stake in the company and have been buying more shares. So it's fair to say I think this stock may well deserve a spot on your watchlist. Of course, just because Camden National 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.
The good news is that Camden National is not the only growth stock with insider buying. Here's a 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.