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Here's Why We Think Essent Group (NYSE:ESNT) Is Well Worth Watching

Simply Wall St

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. 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 Essent Group (NYSE:ESNT). 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.

View our latest analysis for Essent Group

How Fast Is Essent Group Growing?

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. Impressively, Essent Group has grown EPS by 37% per year, compound, in the last three years. As a general rule, we'd say that if a company can keep up that sort of growth, shareholders will be smiling.

I like to take a look at earnings before interest and (EBIT) tax margins, as well as revenue growth, to get another take on the quality of the company's growth. The good news is that Essent Group is growing revenues, and EBIT margins improved by 4.9 percentage points to 78%, over the last year. That's great to see, on both counts.

In the chart below, you can see how the company has grown earnings, and revenue, over time. For finer detail, click on the image.

NYSE:ESNT Income Statement, October 9th 2019

The trick, as an investor, is to find companies that are going to perform well in the future, not just in the past. To that end, right now and today, you can check our visualization of consensus analyst forecasts for future Essent Group EPS 100% free.

Are Essent Group Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?

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

Like a sturdy phalanx Essent Group insiders have stood united by refusing to sell shares over the last year. But my excitement comes from the US$72k that Director Robert Glanville spent buying shares (at an average price of about US$36.12).

On top of the insider buying, it's good to see that Essent Group insiders have a valuable investment in the business. Indeed, they have a glittering mountain of wealth invested in it, currently valued at US$135m. 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 Essent Group Worth Keeping An Eye On?

You can't deny that Essent Group has grown its earnings per share at a very impressive rate. That's attractive. The cranberry sauce on the turkey is that insiders own a bunch of shares, and one has been buying more. So it's fair to say I think this stock may well deserve a spot on your watchlist. Now, you could try to make up your mind on Essent Group by focusing on just these factors, or you could also consider how its price-to-earnings ratio compares to other companies in its industry.

As a growth investor I do like to see insider buying. But Essent Group isn't the only one. You can see a a free list of them here.

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.