U.S. Markets close in 5 hrs 16 mins

Here's Why We Think MutualFirst Financial (NASDAQ:MFSF) Is Well Worth Watching

Simply Wall St

Want to participate in a short research study? Help shape the future of investing tools and you could win a $250 gift card!

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. And in . 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 MutualFirst Financial (NASDAQ:MFSF). Now, I'm not saying that the stock is necessarily undervalued today; but I can't shake an appreciation for the profitability of the business itself. Conversely, a loss-making company is yet to prove itself with profit, and eventually the sweet milk of external capital may run sour.

Check out our latest analysis for MutualFirst Financial

How Quickly Is MutualFirst Financial Increasing Earnings Per Share?

As one of my mentors once told me, share price follows earnings per share (EPS). That means EPS growth is considered a real positive by most successful long-term investors. MutualFirst Financial managed to grow EPS by 13% per year, over three years. That's a pretty good rate, if the company can sustain it.

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 MutualFirst Financial'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. MutualFirst Financial maintained stable EBIT margins over the last year, all while growing revenue 26% to US$84m. That's progress.

You can take a look at the company's revenue and earnings growth trend, in the chart below. Click on the chart to see the exact numbers.

NasdaqGM:MFSF Income Statement, May 14th 2019

Fortunately, we've got access to analyst forecasts of MutualFirst Financial's future profits. You can do your own forecasts without looking, or you can take a peek at what the professionals are predicting.

Are MutualFirst Financial 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. So it is good to see that MutualFirst Financial insiders have a significant amount of capital invested in the stock. To be specific, they have US$32m worth of shares. That shows significant buy-in, and may indicate conviction in the business strategy. That amounts to 12% of the company, demonstrating a degree of high-level alignment with 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. For companies with market capitalizations between US$100m and US$400m, like MutualFirst Financial, the median CEO pay is around US$1.1m.

MutualFirst Financial offered total compensation worth US$674k to its CEO in the year to December 2018. That seems pretty reasonable, especially given its below the median for similar sized companies. While the level of CEO compensation isn't a huge factor in my view of the company, modest remuneration is a positive, because it suggests that the board keeps shareholder interests in mind. It can also be a sign of a culture of integrity, in a broader sense.

Should You Add MutualFirst Financial To Your Watchlist?

As I already mentioned, MutualFirst Financial is a growing business, which is what I like to see. Earnings growth might be the main game for MutualFirst 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. 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 MutualFirst Financial. You might benefit from giving it a glance today.

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

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.