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With EPS Growth And More, Forward Air (NASDAQ:FWRD) Is Interesting

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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 Forward Air (NASDAQ:FWRD). Even if the shares are fully valued today, most capitalists would recognize its profits as the demonstration of steady value generation. While a well funded company may sustain losses for years, unless its owners have an endless appetite for subsidizing the customer, it will need to generate a profit eventually, or else breathe its last breath.

Check out our latest analysis for Forward Air

Forward Air's Earnings Per Share Are Growing.

As one of my mentors once told me, share price follows earnings per share (EPS). That means EPS growth is considered a real positive by most successful long-term investors. It certainly is nice to see that Forward Air has managed to grow EPS by 19% per year over three years. If the company can sustain that sort of growth, we'd expect shareholders to come away winners.

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. Forward Air shareholders can take confidence from the fact that EBIT margins are up from 6.5% to 11%, and revenue is growing. Ticking those two boxes is a good sign of growth, in my book.

In the chart below, you can see how the company has grown earnings, and revenue, over time. For finer detail, click on the image.

earnings-and-revenue-history
earnings-and-revenue-history

The trick, as an investor, is to find companies that are going to perform well in the future, not just in the past. To that end, right now and today, you can check our visualization of consensus analyst forecasts for future Forward Air EPS 100% free.

Are Forward Air Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?

Like the kids in the streets standing up for their beliefs, insider share purchases give me reason to believe in a brighter future. Because oftentimes, the purchase of stock is a sign that the buyer views it as undervalued. However, small purchases are not always indicative of conviction, and insiders don't always get it right.

Not only did Forward Air insiders refrain from selling stock during the year, but they also spent US$56k buying it. That's nice to see, because it suggests insiders are optimistic.

Along with the insider buying, another encouraging sign for Forward Air is that insiders, as a group, have a considerable shareholding. To be specific, they have US$27m worth of shares. That shows significant buy-in, and may indicate conviction in the business strategy. Despite being just 1.1% of the company, the value of that investment is enough to show insiders have plenty riding on the venture.

While insiders already own a significant amount of shares, and they have been buying more, the good news for ordinary shareholders does not stop there. That's because on our analysis the CEO, Tom Schmitt, is paid less than the median for similar sized companies. I discovered that the median total compensation for the CEOs of companies like Forward Air with market caps between US$2.0b and US$6.4b is about US$6.9m.

The Forward Air CEO received US$6.0m in compensation for the year ending . That comes in below the average for similar sized companies, and seems pretty reasonable to me. 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 good governance, more generally.

Is Forward Air Worth Keeping An Eye On?

For growth investors like me, Forward Air's raw rate of earnings growth is a beacon in the night. Not only that, but we can see that insiders both own a lot of, and are buying more, shares in the company. So I do think this is one stock worth watching. While we've looked at the quality of the earnings, we haven't yet done any work to value the stock. So if you like to buy cheap, you may want to check if Forward Air is trading on a high P/E or a low P/E, relative to its industry.

As a growth investor I do like to see insider buying. But Forward Air isn't the only one. You can see a a free list of them here.

Please note the insider transactions discussed in this article refer to reportable transactions in the relevant jurisdiction.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.

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.