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Does F5 Networks (NASDAQ:FFIV) Deserve A Spot On Your Watchlist?

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.

In contrast to all that, I prefer to spend time on companies like F5 Networks (NASDAQ:FFIV), which has not only revenues, but also profits. While that doesn't make the shares worth buying at any price, you can't deny that successful capitalism requires profit, eventually. 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.

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See our latest analysis for F5 Networks

F5 Networks's Earnings Per Share Are Growing.

The market is a voting machine in the short term, but a weighing machine in the long term, so share price follows earnings per share (EPS) eventually. That means EPS growth is considered a real positive by most successful long-term investors. It certainly is nice to see that F5 Networks has managed to grow EPS by 18% per year over three years. As a general rule, we'd say that if a company can keep up that sort of growth, shareholders will be smiling.

I like to see top-line growth as an indication that growth is sustainable, and I look for a high earnings before interest and taxation (EBIT) margin to point to a competitive moat (though some companies with low margins also have moats). F5 Networks maintained stable EBIT margins over the last year, all while growing revenue 3.8% to US$2.2b. That's a real positive.

The chart below shows how the company's bottom and top lines have progressed over time. Click on the chart to see the exact numbers.

NasdaqGS:FFIV Income Statement, May 23rd 2019

The trick, as an investor, is to find companies that are going to perform well in the future, not just in the past. To that end, right now and today, you can check our visualization of consensus analyst forecasts for future F5 Networks EPS 100% free.

Are F5 Networks Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?

Since F5 Networks has a market capitalization of US$8.4b, we wouldn't expect insiders to hold a large percentage of shares. But we are reassured by the fact they have invested in the company. Indeed, they hold US$23m worth of its stock. That shows significant buy-in, and may indicate conviction in the business strategy. Despite being just 0.3% of the company, the value of that investment is enough to show insiders have plenty riding on the venture.

Is F5 Networks Worth Keeping An Eye On?

You can't deny that F5 Networks has grown its earnings per share at a very impressive rate. That's attractive. I think that EPS growth is something to boast of, and it doesn't surprise me that insiders are holding on to a considerable chunk of shares. Fast growth and confident insiders should be enough to warrant further research. So the answer is that I do think this is a good stock to follow along with. Once you've identified a business you like, the next step is to consider what you think it's worth. And right now is your chance to view our exclusive discounted cashflow valuation of F5 Networks. You might benefit from giving it a glance today.

Of course, you can do well (sometimes) buying stocks that are not growing earnings and do not have insiders buying shares. But as a growth investor I always like to check out companies that do have those features. You can access a free list of them here.

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.