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Here's Why We Think Churchill Downs (NASDAQ:CHDN) Is Well Worth Watching

Simply Wall St

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. 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.

If, on the other hand, you like companies that have revenue, and even earn profits, then you may well be interested in Churchill Downs (NASDAQ:CHDN). Even if the shares are fully valued today, most capitalists would recognize its profits as the demonstration of steady value generation. In comparison, loss making companies act like a sponge for capital - but unlike such a sponge they do not always produce something when squeezed.

View our latest analysis for Churchill Downs

How Fast Is Churchill Downs Growing?

If you believe that markets are even vaguely efficient, then over the long term you'd expect a company's share price to follow its earnings per share (EPS). That means EPS growth is considered a real positive by most successful long-term investors. Who among us would not applaud Churchill Downs's stratospheric annual EPS growth of 41%, compound, over the last three years? That sort of growth never lasts long, but like a shooting star it is well worth watching when it happens.

Careful consideration of revenue growth and earnings before interest and taxation (EBIT) margins can help inform a view on the sustainability of the recent profit growth. I note that Churchill Downs's revenue from operations was lower than its revenue in the last twelve months, so that could distort my analysis of its margins. While we note Churchill Downs's EBIT margins were flat over the last year, revenue grew by a solid 25% to US$1.2b. That's a real positive.

In the chart below, you can see how the company has grown earnings, and revenue, over time. To see the actual numbers, click on the chart.

NasdaqGS:CHDN Income Statement, August 21st 2019

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 Churchill Downs.

Are Churchill Downs Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?

Like standing at the lookout, surveying the horizon at sunrise, insider buying, for some investors, sparks joy. 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.

The good news is that Churchill Downs insiders spent a whopping US$3.5m on stock in just one year, and I didn't see any selling. And so I find myself almost expectant, and certainly hopeful, that this large outlay signals prescient optimism for the business. We also note that it was the , Richard Duchossois, who made the biggest single acquisition, paying US$1.5m for shares at about US$91.86 each.

On top of the insider buying, it's good to see that Churchill Downs insiders have a valuable investment in the business. Notably, they have an enormous stake in the company, worth US$180m. I would find that kind of skin in the game quite encouraging, if I owned shares, since it would ensure that the leaders of the company would also experience my success, or failure, with the stock.

Is Churchill Downs Worth Keeping An Eye On?

Churchill Downs's earnings per share have taken off like a rocket aimed right at the moon. What's more insiders own a significant stake in the company and have been buying more shares. Because of the potential that it has reached an inflection point, I'd suggest Churchill Downs belongs on the top of your watchlist. Now, you could try to make up your mind on Churchill Downs by focusing on just these factors, or you could also consider how its price-to-earnings ratio compares to other companies in its industry.

There are plenty of other companies that have insiders buying up shares. So if you like the sound of Churchill Downs, 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

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 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. Thank you for reading.