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Here's Why I Think First Defiance Financial (NASDAQ:FDEF) Might Deserve Your Attention Today

Simply Wall St

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. 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 First Defiance Financial (NASDAQ:FDEF). While that doesn't make the shares worth buying at any price, you can't deny that successful capitalism requires profit, eventually. In comparison, loss making companies act like a sponge for capital - but unlike such a sponge they do not always produce something when squeezed.

See our latest analysis for First Defiance Financial

First Defiance Financial's Earnings Per Share Are 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. Over the last three years, First Defiance Financial has grown EPS by 16% per year. That growth rate is fairly good, assuming the company can keep it up.

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 First Defiance Financial's revenue from operations was lower than its revenue in the last twelve months, so that could distort my analysis of its margins. First Defiance Financial maintained stable EBIT margins over the last year, all while growing revenue 6.6% to US$154m. That's a real positive.

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.

NasdaqGS:FDEF Income Statement, January 1st 2020

You don't drive with your eyes on the rear-view mirror, so you might be more interested in this free report showing analyst forecasts for First Defiance Financial's future profits.

Are First Defiance Financial Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?

It makes me feel more secure owning shares in a company if insiders also own shares, thusly more closely aligning our interests. So it is good to see that First Defiance Financial insiders have a significant amount of capital invested in the stock. Indeed, they hold US$21m worth of its stock. That's a lot of money, and no small incentive to work hard. Despite being just 3.4% of the company, the value of that investment is enough to show insiders have plenty riding on the venture.

It's good to see that insiders are invested in the company, but are remuneration levels reasonable? A brief analysis of the CEO compensation suggests they are. I discovered that the median total compensation for the CEOs of companies like First Defiance Financial with market caps between US$400m and US$1.6b is about US$2.6m.

The CEO of First Defiance Financial only received US$1m 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. CEO compensation is hardly the most important aspect of a company to consider, but when its reasonable that does give me a little more confidence that leadership are looking out for shareholder interests. It can also be a sign of a culture of integrity, in a broader sense.

Should You Add First Defiance Financial To Your Watchlist?

As I already mentioned, First Defiance Financial is a growing business, which is what I like to see. Earnings growth might be the main game for First Defiance Financial, but the fun does not stop there. Boasting both modest CEO pay and considerable insider ownership, I'd argue this one is worthy of the watchlist, at least. Of course, just because First Defiance Financial is growing does not mean it is undervalued. If you're wondering about the valuation, check out this gauge of its price-to-earnings ratio, as compared to its industry.

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

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.

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