For beginners, it can seem like a good idea (and an exciting prospect) to buy a company that tells a good story to investors, even if it completely lacks a track record of revenue and profit. 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.
So if you're like me, you might be more interested in profitable, growing companies, like Bouygues (EPA:EN). 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.
Bouygues's Earnings Per Share Are Growing.
As one of my mentors once told me, share price follows earnings per share (EPS). Therefore, there are plenty of investors who like to buy shares in companies that are growing EPS. Who among us would not applaud Bouygues's stratospheric annual EPS growth of 41%, compound, over the last three years? While that sort of growth rate isn't sustainable for long, it certainly catches my attention; like a crow with a sparkly stone.
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). Bouygues maintained stable EBIT margins over the last year, all while growing revenue 11% to €37b. That's progress.
The chart below shows how the company's bottom and top lines have progressed over time. For finer detail, click on the image.
In investing, as in life, the future matters more than the past. So why not check out this free interactive visualization of Bouygues's forecast profits?
Are Bouygues Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?
We would not expect to see insiders owning a large percentage of a €13b company like Bouygues. But we are reassured by the fact they have invested in the company. To be specific, they have €20m worth of shares. That shows significant buy-in, and may indicate conviction in the business strategy. Even though that's only about 0.2% of the company, it's enough money to indicate alignment between the leaders of the business and ordinary shareholders.
Is Bouygues Worth Keeping An Eye On?
Bouygues's earnings per share have taken off like a rocket aimed right at the moon. That EPS growth certainly has my attention, and the large insider ownership only serves to further stoke my interest. At times fast EPS growth is a sign the business has reached an inflection point; and I do like those. So to my mind Bouygues is worth putting on your watchlist; after all, shareholders do well when the market underestimates fast growing companies. Of course, identifying quality businesses is only half the battle; investors need to know whether the stock is undervalued. So you might want to consider this free discounted cashflow valuation of Bouygues.
Of course, you can do well (sometimes) buying stocks that are not growing earnings and do not have insiders buying shares. But as a growth investor I always like to check out companies that do have those features. You can access a free list of them here.
Please note the insider transactions discussed in this article refer to reportable transactions in the relevant jurisdiction
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