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 Hancock Whitney (NASDAQ:HWC). Even if the shares are fully valued today, most capitalists would recognize its profits as the demonstration of steady value generation. Conversely, a loss-making company is yet to prove itself with profit, and eventually the sweet milk of external capital may run sour.
How Quickly Is Hancock Whitney Increasing Earnings Per Share?
If a company can keep growing earnings per share (EPS) long enough, its share price will eventually follow. It's no surprise, then, that I like to invest in companies with EPS growth. Who among us would not applaud Hancock Whitney's stratospheric annual EPS growth of 39%, 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.
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. Not all of Hancock Whitney'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. While we note Hancock Whitney's EBIT margins were flat over the last year, revenue grew by a solid 5.8% to US$1.1b. 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.
In investing, as in life, the future matters more than the past. So why not check out this free interactive visualization of Hancock Whitney's forecast profits?
Are Hancock Whitney 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. As a result, I'm encouraged by the fact that insiders own Hancock Whitney shares worth a considerable sum. Indeed, they hold US$37m worth of its stock. That shows significant buy-in, and may indicate conviction in the business strategy. Even though that's only about 1.1% of the company, it's enough money to indicate alignment between the leaders of the business and ordinary shareholders.
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 Hancock Whitney with market caps between US$2.0b and US$6.4b is about US$5.1m.
Hancock Whitney offered total compensation worth US$3.7m to its CEO in the year to December 2018. That seems pretty reasonable, especially given its below the median for similar sized companies. CEO remuneration levels are not the most important metric for investors, but when the pay is modest, that does support enhanced alignment between the CEO and the ordinary shareholders. It can also be a sign of good governance, more generally.
Should You Add Hancock Whitney To Your Watchlist?
Hancock Whitney's earnings per share have taken off like a rocket aimed right at the moon. The sweetener is that insiders have a mountain of stock, and the CEO remuneration is quite reasonable. The strong EPS improvement suggests the businesses is humming along. Hancock Whitney certainly ticks a few of my boxes, so I think it's probably well worth further consideration. If you think Hancock Whitney might suit your style as an investor, you could go straight to its annual report, or you could first check our discounted cash flow (DCF) valuation for the company.
Although Hancock Whitney certainly looks good to me, I would like it more if insiders were buying up shares. If you like to see insider buying, too, then this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying, could be exactly what you're looking for.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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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