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If You Like EPS Growth Then Check Out Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) Before It's Too Late

Simply Wall St

It's only natural that many investors, especially those who are new to the game, prefer to buy shares in 'sexy' stocks with a good story, even if those businesses lose money. Unfortunately, high risk investments often have little probability of ever paying off, and many investors pay a price to learn their lesson.

In contrast to all that, I prefer to spend time on companies like Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT), which has not only revenues, but also profits. While profit is not necessarily a social good, it's easy to admire a business than can consistently produce it. 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.

View our latest analysis for Caterpillar

How Fast Is Caterpillar Growing Its Earnings Per Share?

Over the last three years, Caterpillar has grown earnings per share (EPS) like young bamboo after rain; fast, and from a low base. So I don't think the percent growth rate is particularly meaningful. As a result, I'll zoom in on growth over the last year, instead. Like the last firework on New Year's Eve accelerating into the sky, Caterpillar's EPS shot from US$5.26 to US$10.86, over the last year. You don't see 107% year-on-year growth like that, very often.

One way to double-check a company's growth is to look at how its revenue, and earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) margins are changing. Not all of Caterpillar's revenue this year is revenue from operations, so keep in mind the revenue and margin numbers I've used might not be the best representation of the underlying business. While we note Caterpillar's EBIT margins were flat over the last year, revenue grew by a solid 8.9% to US$56b. That's progress.

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

NYSE:CAT Income Statement, September 25th 2019

In investing, as in life, the future matters more than the past. So why not check out this free interactive visualization of Caterpillar's forecast profits?

Are Caterpillar Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?

Like that fresh smell in the air when the rains are coming, insider buying fills me with optimistic anticipation. Because oftentimes, the purchase of stock is a sign that the buyer views it as undervalued. However, insiders are sometimes wrong, and we don't know the exact thinking behind their acquisitions.

Like a sturdy phalanx Caterpillar insiders have stood united by refusing to sell shares over the last year. But my excitement comes from the US$125k that Group President of Services Bob De Lange spent buying shares (at an average price of about US$116).

The good news, alongside the insider buying, for Caterpillar bulls is that insiders (collectively) have a meaningful investment in the stock. Notably, they have an enormous stake in the company, worth US$104m. I would find that kind of skin in the game quite encouraging, if I owned shares, since it would ensure that the leaders of the company would also experience my success, or failure, with the stock.

Should You Add Caterpillar To Your Watchlist?

Caterpillar's earnings per share have taken off like a rocket aimed right at the moon. The cherry on top is that insiders own a bunch of shares, and one has been buying more. Because of the potential that it has reached an inflection point, I'd suggest Caterpillar belongs on the top of your watchlist. 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 Caterpillar. You might benefit from giving it a glance today.

As a growth investor I do like to see insider buying. But Caterpillar 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

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. 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. Thank you for reading.