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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. 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 Descartes Systems Group (TSE:DSG). 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.
How Quickly Is Descartes Systems Group Increasing Earnings Per Share?
As one of my mentors once told me, share price follows earnings per share (EPS). It's no surprise, then, that I like to invest in companies with EPS growth. Impressively, Descartes Systems Group has grown EPS by 21% per year, compound, in the last three years. So it's not surprising to see the company trades on a very high multiple of (past) earnings.
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. The good news is that Descartes Systems Group is growing revenues, and EBIT margins improved by 3.9 percentage points to 21%, over the last year. That's great to see, on both counts.
The chart below shows how the company's bottom and top lines have progressed over time. To see the actual numbers, click on the chart.
Fortunately, we've got access to analyst forecasts of Descartes Systems Group's future profits. You can do your own forecasts without looking, or you can take a peek at what the professionals are predicting.
Are Descartes Systems Group Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?
Since Descartes Systems Group has a market capitalization of CA$6.8b, we wouldn't expect insiders to hold a large percentage of shares. But we do take comfort from the fact that they are investors in the company. To be specific, they have US$22m worth of shares. That shows significant buy-in, and may indicate conviction in the business strategy. Even though that's only about 0.3% of the company, it's enough money to indicate alignment between the leaders of the business and ordinary shareholders.
It means a lot to see insiders invested in the business, but I find myself wondering if remuneration policies are shareholder friendly. Well, based on the CEO pay, I'd say they are indeed. For companies with market capitalizations between US$4.0b and US$12b, like Descartes Systems Group, the median CEO pay is around US$3.8m.
The Descartes Systems Group CEO received US$3.3m in compensation for the year ending . That comes in below the average for similar sized companies, and seems pretty reasonable to me. CEO remuneration levels are not the most important metric for investors, but when the pay is modest, that does support enhanced alignment between the CEO and the ordinary shareholders. It can also be a sign of good governance, more generally.
Is Descartes Systems Group Worth Keeping An Eye On?
For growth investors like me, Descartes Systems Group's raw rate of earnings growth is a beacon in the night. If you need more convincing beyond that EPS growth rate, don't forget about the reasonable remuneration and the high insider ownership. This may only be a fast rundown, but the takeaway for me is that Descartes Systems Group is worth keeping an eye on. Another important measure of business quality not discussed here, is return on equity (ROE). Click on this link to see how Descartes Systems Group shapes up to industry peers, when it comes to ROE.
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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