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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 Peter Lynch said in One Up On Wall Street, 'Long shots almost never pay off.'
In contrast to all that, I prefer to spend time on companies like Cintas (NASDAQ:CTAS), which has not only revenues, but also profits. 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.
Cintas's Earnings Per Share Are Growing.
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. Over the last three years, Cintas has grown EPS by 12% per year. That growth rate is fairly good, assuming the company can keep it up.
I like to take a look at earnings before interest and (EBIT) tax margins, as well as revenue growth, to get another take on the quality of the company's growth. Not all of Cintas'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. The good news is that Cintas is growing revenues, and EBIT margins improved by 2.4 percentage points to 20%, over the last year. 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.
Of course the knack is to find stocks that have their best days in the future, not in the past. You could base your opinion on past performance, of course, but you may also want to check this interactive graph of professional analyst EPS forecasts for Cintas.
Are Cintas Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?
Since Cintas has a market capitalization of US$42b, we wouldn't expect insiders to hold a large percentage of shares. But we are reassured by the fact they have invested in the company. Notably, they have an enormous stake in the company, worth US$6.2b. That equates to 15% of the company, making insiders powerful and aligned with other shareholders. So it might be my imagination, but I do sense the glimmer of an opportunity.
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. I discovered that the median total compensation for the CEOs of companies like Cintas, with market caps over US$8.0b, is about US$11m.
The Cintas CEO received total compensation of just US$3.7m in the year to . That's clearly well below average, so at a glance, that arrangement seems generous to shareholders, and points to a modest remuneration culture. 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.
Does Cintas Deserve A Spot On Your Watchlist?
One positive for Cintas is that it is growing EPS. That's nice to see. Earnings growth might be the main game for Cintas, but the fun does not stop there. Boasting both modest CEO pay and considerable insider ownership, I'd argue this one is worthy of the watchlist, at least. You still need to take note of risks, for example - Cintas has 1 warning sign we think you should be aware of.
Of course, you can do well (sometimes) buying stocks that are not growing earnings and do not have insiders buying shares. But as a growth investor I always like to check out companies that do have those features. You can access a free list of them here.
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. 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.
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