For beginners, it can seem like a good idea (and an exciting prospect) to buy a company that tells a good story to investors, even if it completely lacks a track record of revenue and 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 Energy One (ASX:EOL). 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. Conversely, a loss-making company is yet to prove itself with profit, and eventually the sweet milk of external capital may run sour.
How Quickly Is Energy One Increasing Earnings Per Share?
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 Energy One has managed to grow EPS by 35% 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.
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. While Energy One did well to grow revenue over the last year, EBIT margins were dampened at the same time. So it seems the future my hold further growth, especially if EBIT margins can stabilize.
You can take a look at the company's revenue and earnings growth trend, in the chart below. Click on the chart to see the exact numbers.
Energy One isn't a huge company, given its market capitalization of AU$38m. That makes it extra important to check on its balance sheet strength.
Are Energy One 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 Energy One insiders own a meaningful share of the business. Indeed, with a collective holding of 71%, company insiders are in control and have plenty of capital behind the venture. To me this is a good sign because it suggests they will be incentivised to build value for shareholders over the long term. In terms of absolute value, insiders have AU$27m invested in the business, using the current share price. That's nothing to sneeze at!
Should You Add Energy One To Your Watchlist?
You can't deny that Energy One 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. So this is very likely the kind of business that I like to spend time researching, with a view to discerning its true value. Now, you could try to make up your mind on Energy One by focusing on just these factors, or you could also consider how its price-to-earnings ratio compares to other companies in its industry.
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
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