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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.
So if you're like me, you might be more interested in profitable, growing companies, like Value Line (NASDAQ:VALU). 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.
How Fast Is Value Line 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. Impressively, Value Line has grown EPS by 37% per year, compound, in the last three years. If the company can sustain that sort of growth, we'd expect shareholders to come away winners.
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). Value Line reported flat revenue and EBIT margins over the last year. That's not a major concern but nor does it point to the long term growth we like to see.
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.
While profitability drives the upside, prudent investors always check the balance sheet, too.
Are Value Line Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?
Many consider high insider ownership to be a strong sign of alignment between the leaders of a company and the ordinary shareholders. So we're pleased to report that Value Line insiders own a meaningful share of the business. In fact, they own 91% of the company, so they will share in the same delights and challenges experienced by the ordinary shareholders. To me this is a good sign because it suggests they will be incentivised to build value for shareholders over the long term. At the current share price, that insider holding is worth a whopping US$607m. Now that's what I call some serious skin in the game!
It's good to see that insiders are invested in the company, but are remuneration levels reasonable? A brief analysis of the CEO compensation suggests they are. For companies with market capitalizations between US$400m and US$1.6b, like Value Line, the median CEO pay is around US$3.9m.
The CEO of Value Line only received US$897k in total compensation for the year ending . 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. It can also be a sign of a culture of integrity, in a broader sense.
Should You Add Value Line To Your Watchlist?
For growth investors like me, Value Line's raw rate of earnings growth is a beacon in the night. If that's not enough, consider also that the CEO pay is quite reasonable, and insiders are well-invested alongside other shareholders. This may only be a fast rundown, but the takeaway for me is that Value Line is worth keeping an eye on. It's still necessary to consider the ever-present spectre of investment risk. We've identified 1 warning sign with Value Line , and understanding this should be part of your investment process.
Although Value Line certainly looks good to me, I would like it more if insiders were buying up shares. If you like to see insider buying, too, then this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying, could be exactly what you're looking for.
Please note the insider transactions discussed in this article refer to reportable transactions in the relevant jurisdiction.
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This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. 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.