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. But as Warren Buffett has mused, 'If you've been playing poker for half an hour and you still don't know who the patsy is, you're the patsy.' When they buy such story stocks, investors are all too often the patsy.
In contrast to all that, I prefer to spend time on companies like Nathan's Famous (NASDAQ:NATH), 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. While a well funded company may sustain losses for years, unless its owners have an endless appetite for subsidizing the customer, it will need to generate a profit eventually, or else breathe its last breath.
How Fast Is Nathan's Famous Growing?
The market is a voting machine in the short term, but a weighing machine in the long term, so share price follows earnings per share (EPS) eventually. Therefore, there are plenty of investors who like to buy shares in companies that are growing EPS. I, for one, am blown away by the fact that Nathan's Famous has grown EPS by 46% per year, over the last three years. Growth that fast may well be fleeting, but like a lotus blooming from a murky pond, it sparks joy for the wary stock pickers.
I like to see top-line growth as an indication that growth is sustainable, and I look for a high earnings before interest and taxation (EBIT) margin to point to a competitive moat (though some companies with low margins also have moats). It seems Nathan's Famous is pretty stable, since revenue and EBIT margins are pretty flat year on year. That's not a major concern but nor does it point to the long term growth we like to see.
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.
Nathan's Famous isn't a huge company, given its market capitalization of US$286m. That makes it extra important to check on its balance sheet strength.
Are Nathan's Famous 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 Nathan's Famous insiders have a significant amount of capital invested in the stock. Given insiders own a small fortune of shares, currently valued at US$88m, they have plenty of motivation to push the business to succeed. That holding amounts to 31% of the stock on issue, thus making insiders influential, and aligned, owners of the business.
Does Nathan's Famous Deserve A Spot On Your Watchlist?
Nathan's Famous's earnings have taken off like any random crypto-currency did, back in 2017. That sort of growth is nothing short of eye-catching, and the large investment held by insiders certainly brightens my view of the company. At times fast EPS growth is a sign the business has reached an inflection point; and I do like those. So to my mind Nathan's Famous is worth putting on your watchlist; after all, shareholders do well when the market underestimates fast growing companies. Now, you could try to make up your mind on Nathan's Famous 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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