Some have more dollars than sense, they say, so even companies that have no revenue, no profit, and a record of falling short, can easily find investors. 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 Johnson Service Group (LON:JSG). While that doesn't make the shares worth buying at any price, you can't deny that successful capitalism requires profit, eventually. 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.
How Fast Is Johnson Service Group Growing?
If you believe that markets are even vaguely efficient, then over the long term you'd expect a company's share price to follow its earnings per share (EPS). It's no surprise, then, that I like to invest in companies with EPS growth. Over the last three years, Johnson Service Group has grown EPS by 6.8% per year. While that sort of growth rate isn't amazing, it does show the business is growing.
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). While we note Johnson Service Group's EBIT margins were flat over the last year, revenue grew by a solid 10% to UK£336m. That's progress.
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.
You don't drive with your eyes on the rear-view mirror, so you might be more interested in this free report showing analyst forecasts for Johnson Service Group's future profits.
Are Johnson Service Group Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?
Like that fresh smell in the air when the rains are coming, insider buying fills me with optimistic anticipation. That's because insider buying often indicates that those closest to the company have confidence that the share price will perform well. Of course, we can never be sure what insiders are thinking, we can only judge their actions.
One positive for Johnson Service Group, is that company insiders paid UK£21k for shares in the last year. This might not be a huge sum, but it's well worth noting anyway, given the complete lack of selling.
I do like that insiders have been buying shares in Johnson Service Group, but there is more evidence of shareholder friendly management. I refer to the very reasonable level of CEO pay. I discovered that the median total compensation for the CEOs of companies like Johnson Service Group with market caps between UK£308m and UK£1.2b is about UK£916k.
The CEO of Johnson Service Group only received UK£355k in total compensation for the year ending December 2018. That looks like modest pay to me, and may hint at a certain respect for the interests of shareholders. While the level of CEO compensation isn't a huge factor in my view of the company, modest remuneration is a positive, because it suggests that the board keeps shareholder interests in mind. It can also be a sign of good governance, more generally.
Should You Add Johnson Service Group To Your Watchlist?
One important encouraging feature of Johnson Service Group is that it is growing profits. And that's not all, folks. We've also seen insiders buying stock, and noted modest executive pay. If that doesn't automatically earn it a spot on your watchlist then I'd posit it warrants a closer look at the very least. Once you've identified a business you like, the next step is to consider what you think it's worth. And right now is your chance to view our exclusive discounted cashflow valuation of Johnson Service Group. You might benefit from giving it a glance today.
As a growth investor I do like to see insider buying. But Johnson Service Group 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
If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned.
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