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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. But the reality is that when a company loses money each year, for long enough, its investors will usually take their share of those losses.
In the age of tech-stock blue-sky investing, my choice may seem old fashioned; I still prefer profitable companies like Colony Bankcorp (NASDAQ:CBAN). 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. Conversely, a loss-making company is yet to prove itself with profit, and eventually the sweet milk of external capital may run sour.
How Fast Is Colony Bankcorp 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). Therefore, there are plenty of investors who like to buy shares in companies that are growing EPS. As a tree reaches steadily for the sky, Colony Bankcorp's EPS has grown 22% each year, compound, over three years. As a general rule, we'd say that if a company can keep up that sort of growth, shareholders will be smiling.
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. Not all of Colony Bankcorp'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. It seems Colony Bankcorp is pretty stable, since revenue and EBIT margins are pretty flat year on year. That's not bad, but it doesn't point to ongoing future growth, either.
In the chart below, you can see how the company has grown earnings, and revenue, over time. Click on the chart to see the exact numbers.
Colony Bankcorp isn't a huge company, given its market capitalization of US$168m. That makes it extra important to check on its balance sheet strength.
Are Colony Bankcorp Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?
Like the kids in the streets standing up for their beliefs, insider share purchases give me reason to believe in a brighter future. This view is based on the possibility that stock purchases signal bullishness on behalf of the buyer. Of course, we can never be sure what insiders are thinking, we can only judge their actions.
Over the last 12 months Colony Bankcorp insiders spent US$189k more buying shares than they received from selling them. Although I don't particularly like to see selling, the fact that they put more capital in, than they extracted, is a positive in my mind. Zooming in, we can see that the biggest insider purchase was by President T. Fountain for US$174k worth of shares, at about US$17.39 per share.
Along with the insider buying, another encouraging sign for Colony Bankcorp is that insiders, as a group, have a considerable shareholding. Indeed, they hold US$40m worth of its stock. That shows significant buy-in, and may indicate conviction in the business strategy. That amounts to 24% of the company, demonstrating a degree of high-level alignment with shareholders.
While insiders are apparently happy to hold and accumulate shares, that is just part of the pretty picture. That's because on our analysis the CEO, T. Fountain, is paid less than the median for similar sized companies. I discovered that the median total compensation for the CEOs of companies like Colony Bankcorp with market caps between US$100m and US$400m is about US$1.1m.
The CEO of Colony Bankcorp only received US$410k in total compensation for the year ending December 2018. That looks like modest pay to me, and may hint at a certain respect for the interests of shareholders. 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 a culture of integrity, in a broader sense.
Does Colony Bankcorp Deserve A Spot On Your Watchlist?
You can't deny that Colony Bankcorp has grown its earnings per share at a very impressive rate. That's attractive. Not only that, but we can see that insiders both own a lot of, and are buying more, shares in the company. So I do think this is one stock worth watching. 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 Colony Bankcorp.
The good news is that Colony Bankcorp is not the only growth stock with insider buying. Here's a 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
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If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at email@example.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.