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. 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 Fortinet (NASDAQ:FTNT), 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. 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.
Want to participate in a short research study? Help shape the future of investing tools and you could win a $250 gift card!
Fortinet's Improving Profits
In a capitalist society capital chases profits, and that means share prices tend rise with earnings per share (EPS). So like the hint of a smile on a face that I love, growing EPS generally makes me look twice. You can imagine, then, that it almost knocked my socks off when I realized that Fortinet grew its EPS from US$0.36 to US$2.06, in one short year. Even though that growth rate is unlikely to be repeated, that looks like a breakout improvement.
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. The good news is that Fortinet is growing revenues, and EBIT margins improved by 4.4 percentage points to 13%, over the last year. That's great to see, on both counts.
The chart below shows how the company's bottom and top lines have progressed over time. To see the actual numbers, click on the chart.
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 Fortinet.
Are Fortinet Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?
Since Fortinet has a market capitalization of US$14b, 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. Indeed, they have a glittering mountain of wealth invested in it, currently valued at US$2.0b. Coming in at 15% of the business, that holding gives insiders a lot of influence, and plenty of reason to generate value for shareholders. Very encouraging.
It means a lot to see insiders invested in the business, but I find myself wondering if remuneration policies are shareholder friendly. A brief analysis of the CEO compensation suggests they are. For companies with market capitalizations over US$8.0b, like Fortinet, the median CEO pay is around US$12m.
Fortinet offered total compensation worth US$6.8m to its CEO in the year to December 2018. That comes in below the average for similar sized companies, and seems pretty reasonable to me. 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.
Should You Add Fortinet To Your Watchlist?
Fortinet's earnings have taken off like any random crypto-currency did, back in 2017. The cherry on top is that insiders own a bucket-load of shares, and the CEO pay seems really quite reasonable. The sharp increase in earnings could signal good business momentum. Fortinet certainly ticks a few of my boxes, so I think it's probably well worth further consideration. If you think Fortinet 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.
You can invest in any company you want. But if you prefer to focus on stocks that have demonstrated insider buying, here is a list of companies 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
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 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. Thank you for reading.