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. But as Peter Lynch said in One Up On Wall Street, 'Long shots almost never pay off.'
So if you're like me, you might be more interested in profitable, growing companies, like ServiceNow (NYSE:NOW). Now, I'm not saying that the stock is necessarily undervalued today; but I can't shake an appreciation for the profitability of the business itself. 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.
ServiceNow's Improving Profits
In business, though not in life, profits are a key measure of success; and share prices tend to reflect earnings per share (EPS). So like a ray of sunshine through a gap in the clouds, improving EPS is considered a good sign. It is therefore awe-striking that ServiceNow's EPS went from US$0.017 to US$3.84 in just one year. When you see earnings grow that quickly, it often means good things ahead for the company. Could this be a sign that the business has reached an inflection point?
One way to double-check a company's growth is to look at how its revenue, and earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) margins are changing. The good news is that ServiceNow is growing revenues, and EBIT margins improved by 6.1 percentage points to 5.0%, over the last year. That's great to see, on both counts.
In the chart below, you can see how the company has grown earnings, and revenue, over time. Click on the chart to see the exact numbers.
Of course the knack is to find stocks that have their best days in the future, not in the past. You could base your opinion on past performance, of course, but you may also want to check this interactive graph of professional analyst EPS forecasts for ServiceNow.
Are ServiceNow Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?
We would not expect to see insiders owning a large percentage of a US$84b company like ServiceNow. But we do take comfort from the fact that they are investors in the company. Indeed, they have a glittering mountain of wealth invested in it, currently valued at US$383m. I would find that kind of skin in the game quite encouraging, if I owned shares, since it would ensure that the leaders of the company would also experience my success, or failure, with the stock.
Is ServiceNow Worth Keeping An Eye On?
ServiceNow's earnings have taken off like any random crypto-currency did, back in 2017. That EPS growth certainly has my attention, and the large insider ownership only serves to further stoke my interest. 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 ServiceNow for a spot on your watchlist. What about risks? Every company has them, and we've spotted 3 warning signs for ServiceNow you should know about.
You can invest in any company you want. But if you prefer to focus on stocks that have demonstrated insider buying, here is a list of companies 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.
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. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.
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