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. But as Peter Lynch said in One Up On Wall Street, 'Long shots almost never pay off.'
So if you're like me, you might be more interested in profitable, growing companies, like National Bankshares (NASDAQ:NKSH). While that doesn't make the shares worth buying at any price, you can't deny that successful capitalism requires profit, eventually. 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 National Bankshares Increasing Earnings Per Share?
If a company can keep growing earnings per share (EPS) long enough, its share price will eventually follow. Therefore, there are plenty of investors who like to buy shares in companies that are growing EPS. We can see that in the last three years National Bankshares grew its EPS by 6.0% per year. That might not be particularly high growth, but it does show that per-share earnings are moving steadily in the right direction.
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 National Bankshares'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. National Bankshares reported flat revenue and EBIT margins over the last year. That's not bad, but it doesn't point to ongoing future growth, either.
You can take a look at the company's revenue and earnings growth trend, in the chart below. Click on the chart to see the exact numbers.
Since National Bankshares is no giant, with a market capitalization of US$278m, so you should definitely check its cash and debt before getting too excited about its prospects.
Are National Bankshares 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. 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.
Any way you look at it National Bankshares shareholders can gain quiet confidence from the fact that insiders shelled out US$356k to buy stock, over the last year. When you contrast that with the complete lack of sales, it's easy for shareholders to brim with joyful expectancy. Zooming in, we can see that the biggest insider purchase was by Jack Lewis for US$110k worth of shares, at about US$36.50 per share.
It's me that National Bankshares insiders are buying the stock, but that's not the only reason to think leader are fair to shareholders. I refer to the very reasonable level of CEO pay. For companies with market capitalizations between US$100m and US$400m, like National Bankshares, the median CEO pay is around US$1.1m.
The National Bankshares CEO received US$841k in compensation for the year ending December 2018. That comes in below the average for similar sized companies, and seems pretty reasonable to me. CEO remuneration levels are not the most important metric for investors, but when the pay is modest, that does support enhanced alignment between the CEO and the ordinary shareholders. I'd also argue reasonable pay levels attest to good decision making more generally.
Is National Bankshares Worth Keeping An Eye On?
One positive for National Bankshares is that it is growing EPS. That's nice to see. 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. If you think National Bankshares might suit your style as an investor, you could go straight to its annual report, or you could first check our discounted cash flow (DCF) valuation for the company.
There are plenty of other companies that have insiders buying up shares. So if you like the sound of National Bankshares, 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
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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