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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 contrast to all that, I prefer to spend time on companies like Keywords Studios (LON:KWS), which has not only revenues, but also profits. Even if the shares are fully valued today, most capitalists would recognize its profits as the demonstration of steady value generation. In comparison, loss making companies act like a sponge for capital - but unlike such a sponge they do not always produce something when squeezed.
How Quickly Is Keywords Studios Increasing Earnings Per Share?
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. I, for one, am blown away by the fact that Keywords Studios has grown EPS by 49% per year, over the last three years. While that sort of growth rate isn't sustainable for long, it certainly catches my attention; like a glint in the eye of my lover.
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). Keywords Studios maintained stable EBIT margins over the last year, all while growing revenue 66% to €251m. 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.
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 Keywords Studios.
Are Keywords Studios 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, small purchases are not always indicative of conviction, and insiders don't always get it right.
We haven't seen any insiders selling Keywords Studios shares, in the last year. So it's definitely nice that Independent Non-Executive Director Georges Fornay bought €20k worth of shares at an average price of around €9.80.
On top of the insider buying, it's good to see that Keywords Studios insiders have a valuable investment in the business. With a whopping €56m worth of shares as a group, insiders have plenty riding on the company's success. That's certainly enough to make me think that management will be very focussed on long term growth.
While insiders are apparently happy to hold and accumulate shares, that is just part of the pretty picture. The cherry on top is that the CEO, Andrew Day is paid comparatively modestly to CEOs at similar sized companies. I discovered that the median total compensation for the CEOs of companies like Keywords Studios with market caps between €892m and €2.9b is about €1.4m.
The CEO of Keywords Studios only received €252k 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. 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 Keywords Studios Worth Keeping An Eye On?
Keywords Studios's earnings have taken off like any random crypto-currency did, back in 2017. The company can also boast of insider buying, and reasonable remuneration for the CEO. It could be that Keywords Studios is at an inflection point, given the EPS growth. If so, then it the potential for further gains probably merit a spot on your watchlist. Of course, profit growth is one thing but it's even better if Keywords Studios is receiving high returns on equity, since that should imply it can keep growing without much need for capital. Click on this link to see how it is faring against the average in its industry.
There are plenty of other companies that have insiders buying up shares. So if you like the sound of Keywords Studios, you'll probably love this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying.
Please note the insider transactions discussed in this article refer to reportable transactions in the relevant jurisdiction
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If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at email@example.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.