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

Simply Wall St

Like a puppy chasing its tail, some new investors often chase 'the next big thing', even if that means buying 'story stocks' without revenue, let alone profit. And in their study titled Who Falls Prey to the Wolf of Wall Street?' Leuz et. al. found that it is 'quite common' for investors to lose money by buying into 'pump and dump' schemes.

In the age of tech-stock blue-sky investing, my choice may seem old fashioned; I still prefer profitable companies like Safehold (NYSE:SAFE). While that doesn't make the shares worth buying at any price, you can't deny that successful capitalism requires profit, eventually. Conversely, a loss-making company is yet to prove itself with profit, and eventually the sweet milk of external capital may run sour.

Check out our latest analysis for Safehold

Safehold's Improving Profits

Even with very modest growth rates, a company will usually do well if it improves earnings per share (EPS) year after year. So it's no surprise that some investors are more inclined to invest in profitable businesses. Like the last firework on New Year's Eve accelerating into the sky, Safehold's EPS shot from US$0.32 to US$0.85, over the last year. You don't see 161% year-on-year growth like that, very often. The best case scenario? That the business has hit a true inflection point.

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 Safehold'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. Safehold shareholders can take confidence from the fact that EBIT margins are up from 52% to 67%, and revenue is growing. That's great to see, on both counts.

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.

NYSE:SAFE Income Statement, February 6th 2020

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 Safehold's future profits.

Are Safehold 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. However, small purchases are not always indicative of conviction, and insiders don't always get it right.

Not only did Safehold insiders refrain from selling stock during the year, but they also spent US$156k buying it. That's nice to see, because it suggests insiders are optimistic. We also note that it was the President & Chief Investment Officer, Marcos Alvarado, who made the biggest single acquisition, paying US$126k for shares at about US$29.00 each.

On top of the insider buying, it's good to see that Safehold insiders have a valuable investment in the business. Indeed, they hold US$14m worth of its stock. That shows significant buy-in, and may indicate conviction in the business strategy. Even though that's only about 0.6% of the company, it's enough money to indicate alignment between the leaders of the business and ordinary shareholders.

Is Safehold Worth Keeping An Eye On?

Safehold's earnings per share growth have been levitating higher, like a mountain goat scaling the Alps. What's more insiders own a significant stake in the company and have been buying more shares. This quick rundown suggests that the business may be of good quality, and also at an inflection point, so maybe Safehold deserves timely attention. One of Buffett's considerations when discussing businesses is if they are capital light or capital intensive. Generally, a company with a high return on equity is capital light, and can thus fund growth more easily. So you might want to check this graph comparing Safehold's ROE with industry peers (and the market at large).

The good news is that Safehold is not the only growth stock with insider buying. Here's a list of them... with insider buying in the last three months!

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 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.

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. Thank you for reading.