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 contrast to all that, I prefer to spend time on companies like Hallmark Financial Services (NASDAQ:HALL), which has not only revenues, but also profits. While profit is not necessarily a social good, it's easy to admire a business than can consistently produce it. In comparison, loss making companies act like a sponge for capital - but unlike such a sponge they do not always produce something when squeezed.
How Fast Is Hallmark Financial Services 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. As a tree reaches steadily for the sky, Hallmark Financial Services's EPS has grown 29% 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.
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 Hallmark Financial Services's revenue from operations was lower than its revenue in the last twelve months, so that could distort my analysis of its margins. The good news is that Hallmark Financial Services is growing revenues, and EBIT margins improved by 7.3 percentage points to 9.2%, over the last year. Ticking those two boxes is a good sign of growth, in my book.
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.
Fortunately, we've got access to analyst forecasts of Hallmark Financial Services's future profits. You can do your own forecasts without looking, or you can take a peek at what the professionals are predicting.
Are Hallmark Financial Services Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?
I always like to check up on CEO compensation, because I think that reasonable pay levels, around or below the median, can be a sign that shareholder interests are well considered. I discovered that the median total compensation for the CEOs of companies like Hallmark Financial Services with market caps between US$200m and US$800m is about US$1.7m.
The Hallmark Financial Services CEO received US$1m in compensation for the year ending December 2018. That seems pretty reasonable, especially given its below the median for similar sized companies. 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. I'd also argue reasonable pay levels attest to good decision making more generally.
Is Hallmark Financial Services Worth Keeping An Eye On?
For growth investors like me, Hallmark Financial Services's raw rate of earnings growth is a beacon in the night. The fast growth bodes well while the very reasonable CEO pay assists builds some confidence in the board. So I'd argue this is the kind of stock worth watching, even if it isn't great value today. Now, you could try to make up your mind on Hallmark Financial Services by focusing on just these factors, or you could also consider how its price-to-earnings ratio compares to other companies in its industry.
You can invest in any company you want. But if you prefer to focus on stocks that have demonstrated insider buying, here is a list of companies 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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