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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. 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.
In the age of tech-stock blue-sky investing, my choice may seem old fashioned; I still prefer profitable companies like Morningstar (NASDAQ:MORN). While profit is not necessarily a social good, it's easy to admire a business that 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.
How Quickly Is Morningstar Increasing Earnings Per Share?
If a company can keep growing earnings per share (EPS) long enough, its share price will eventually follow. That makes EPS growth an attractive quality for any company. As a tree reaches steadily for the sky, Morningstar's EPS has grown 18% 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. While we note Morningstar's EBIT margins were flat over the last year, revenue grew by a solid 18% to US$1.4b. That's progress.
The chart below shows how the company's bottom and top lines have progressed over time. For finer detail, click on the image.
While it's always good to see growing profits, you should always remember that a weak balance sheet could come back to bite. So check Morningstar's balance sheet strength, before getting too excited.
Are Morningstar Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?
Personally, I like to see high insider ownership of a company, since it suggests that it will be managed in the interests of shareholders. So we're pleased to report that Morningstar insiders own a meaningful share of the business. Actually, with 45% of the company to their names, insiders are profoundly invested in the business. I'm always comforted by solid insider ownership like this, as it implies that those running the business are genuinely motivated to create shareholder value. And their holding is extremely valuable at the current share price, totalling US$4.7b. Now that's what I call some serious skin in the game!
It's good to see that insiders are invested in the company, but are remuneration levels reasonable? Well, based on the CEO pay, I'd say they are indeed. I discovered that the median total compensation for the CEOs of companies like Morningstar, with market caps over US$8.0b, is about US$11m.
The Morningstar CEO received total compensation of just US$4.0m in the year to . That looks like modest pay to me, and may hint at a certain respect for the interests of shareholders. 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. I'd also argue reasonable pay levels attest to good decision making more generally.
Is Morningstar Worth Keeping An Eye On?
You can't deny that Morningstar has grown its earnings per share at a very impressive rate. That's attractive. If that's not enough, consider also that the CEO pay is quite reasonable, and insiders are well-invested alongside other shareholders. This may only be a fast rundown, but the takeaway for me is that Morningstar is worth keeping an eye on. Still, you should learn about the 1 warning sign we've spotted with Morningstar .
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.
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. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.
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