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. Unfortunately, high risk investments often have little probability of ever paying off, and many investors pay a price to learn their lesson.
So if you're like me, you might be more interested in profitable, growing companies, like AMERISAFE (NASDAQ:AMSF). 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. 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 AMERISAFE Increasing Earnings Per Share?
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. It's no surprise, then, that I like to invest in companies with EPS growth. It certainly is nice to see that AMERISAFE has managed to grow EPS by 25% per year over three years. If the company can sustain that sort of growth, we'd expect shareholders to come away winners.
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). I note that AMERISAFE's revenue from operations was lower than its revenue in the last twelve months, so that could distort my analysis of its margins. AMERISAFE's EBIT margins have actually improved by 4.5 percentage points in the last year, to reach 34%, but, on the flip side, revenue was down 3.0%. That falls short of ideal.
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.
In investing, as in life, the future matters more than the past. So why not check out this free interactive visualization of AMERISAFE's forecast profits?
Are AMERISAFE Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?
I like company leaders to have some skin in the game, so to speak, because it increases alignment of incentives between the people running the business, and its true owners. So it is good to see that AMERISAFE insiders have a significant amount of capital invested in the stock. To be specific, they have US$21m worth of shares. That's a lot of money, and no small incentive to work hard. Despite being just 1.7% of the company, the value of that investment is enough to show insiders have plenty riding on the venture.
Is AMERISAFE Worth Keeping An Eye On?
For growth investors like me, AMERISAFE's raw rate of earnings growth is a beacon in the night. Further, the high level of insider ownership impresses me, and suggests that I'm not the only one who appreciates the EPS growth. Fast growth and confident insiders should be enough to warrant further research. So the answer is that I do think this is a good stock to follow along with. You still need to take note of risks, for example - AMERISAFE has 2 warning signs (and 1 which doesn't sit too well with us) we think you should know about.
Although AMERISAFE certainly looks good to me, I would like it more if insiders were buying up shares. If you like to see insider buying, too, then this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying, could be exactly what you're looking for.
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. 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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