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Does Li Ning (HKG:2331) Deserve A Spot On Your Watchlist?

Simply Wall St

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 Peter Lynch said in One Up On Wall Street, 'Long shots almost never pay off.'

If, on the other hand, you like companies that have revenue, and even earn profits, then you may well be interested in Li Ning (HKG:2331). Even if the shares are fully valued today, most capitalists would recognize its profits as the demonstration of steady value generation. Loss-making companies are always racing against time to reach financial sustainability, but time is often a friend of the profitable company, especially if it is growing.

See our latest analysis for Li Ning

How Fast Is Li Ning Growing Its Earnings Per Share?

In the last three years Li Ning's earnings per share took off like a rocket; fast, and from a low base. So the actual rate of growth doesn't tell us much. As a result, I'll zoom in on growth over the last year, instead. Like a firecracker arcing through the night sky, Li Ning's EPS shot from CN¥0.25 to CN¥0.51, over the last year. Year on year growth of 109% is certainly a sight to behold. That could be a sign that the business has reached a true inflection point.

I like to take a look at earnings before interest and (EBIT) tax margins, as well as revenue growth, to get another take on the quality of the company's growth. The good news is that Li Ning is growing revenues, and EBIT margins improved by 3.8 percentage points to 9.2%, over the last year. Ticking those two boxes is a good sign of growth, in my book.

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.

SEHK:2331 Income Statement, November 27th 2019

While we live in the present moment at all times, there's no doubt in my mind that the future matters more than the past. So why not check this interactive chart depicting future EPS estimates, for Li Ning?

Are Li Ning Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?

Since Li Ning has a market capitalization of HK$60b, 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. To be specific, they have CN¥316m worth of shares. That's a lot of money, and no small incentive to work hard. Even though that's only about 0.5% of the company, it's enough money to indicate alignment between the leaders of the business and ordinary shareholders.

Does Li Ning Deserve A Spot On Your Watchlist?

Li Ning's earnings per share have taken off like a rocket aimed right at the moon. That sort of growth is nothing short of eye-catching, and the large investment held by insiders certainly brightens my view of the company. The hope is, of course, that the strong growth marks a fundamental improvement in the business economics. So yes, on this short analysis I do think it's worth considering Li Ning for a spot on your watchlist. 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 Li Ning. 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

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.

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. Thank you for reading.