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Here's Why I Think Life Storage (NYSE:LSI) Is An Interesting Stock

Simply Wall St

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Some have more dollars than sense, they say, so even companies that have no revenue, no profit, and a record of falling short, can easily find investors. But as Peter Lynch said in One Up On Wall Street, 'Long shots almost never pay off.'

If, on the other hand, you like companies that have revenue, and even earn profits, then you may well be interested in Life Storage (NYSE:LSI). While profit is not necessarily a social good, it's easy to admire a business than can consistently produce it. Loss-making companies are always racing against time to reach financial sustainability, but time is often a friend of the profitable company, especially if it is growing.

See our latest analysis for Life Storage

How Quickly Is Life Storage Increasing Earnings Per Share?

As one of my mentors once told me, share price follows earnings per share (EPS). It's no surprise, then, that I like to invest in companies with EPS growth. Over the last three years, Life Storage has grown EPS by 11% per year. That's a good rate of growth, if it can be sustained.

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. Not all of Life Storage'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. The good news is that Life Storage is growing revenues, and EBIT margins improved by 3.9 percentage points to 40%, over the last year. That's great to see, on both counts.

The chart below shows how the company's bottom and top lines have progressed over time. To see the actual numbers, click on the chart.

NYSE:LSI Income Statement, May 14th 2019

Of course the knack is to find stocks that have their best days in the future, not in the past. You could base your opinion on past performance, of course, but you may also want to check this interactive graph of professional analyst EPS forecasts for Life Storage.

Are Life Storage Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?

I like company leaders to have some skin in the game, so to speak, because it increases alignment of incentives between the people running the business, and its true owners. As a result, I'm encouraged by the fact that insiders own Life Storage shares worth a considerable sum. Indeed, they hold US$49m worth of its stock. That's a lot of money, and no small incentive to work hard. Despite being just 1.1%, 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. For companies with market capitalizations between US$2.0b and US$6.4b, like Life Storage, the median CEO pay is around US$5.2m.

The CEO of Life Storage only received US$2.4m in total compensation for the year ending December 2018. That's clearly well below average, so at a glance, that arrangement seems generous to shareholders, and points to a modest remuneration culture. 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 good governance, more generally.

Should You Add Life Storage To Your Watchlist?

One positive for Life Storage is that it is growing EPS. That's nice to see. The fact that EPS is growing is a genuine positive for Life Storage, but the pretty picture gets better than that. With a meaningful level of insider ownership, and reasonable CEO pay, a reasonable mind might conclude that this is one stock worth watching. Once you've identified a business you like, the next step is to consider what you think it's worth. And right now is your chance to view our exclusive discounted cashflow valuation of Life Storage. You might benefit from giving it a glance today.

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

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.