It's only natural that many investors, especially those who are new to the game, prefer to buy shares in 'sexy' stocks with a good story, even if those businesses lose money. 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 contrast to all that, I prefer to spend time on companies like Parker-Hannifin (NYSE:PH), which has not only revenues, but also profits. While that doesn't make the shares worth buying at any price, you can't deny that successful capitalism requires profit, eventually. Conversely, a loss-making company is yet to prove itself with profit, and eventually the sweet milk of external capital may run sour.
How Fast Is Parker-Hannifin Growing?
If you believe that markets are even vaguely efficient, then over the long term you'd expect a company's share price to follow its earnings per share (EPS). That means EPS growth is considered a real positive by most successful long-term investors. As a tree reaches steadily for the sky, Parker-Hannifin's EPS has grown 23% 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.
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 Parker-Hannifin is pretty stable, since revenue and EBIT margins are pretty flat year on year. That's not bad, but it doesn't point to ongoing future growth, either.
In the chart below, you can see how the company has grown earnings, and revenue, over time. For finer detail, click on the image.
In investing, as in life, the future matters more than the past. So why not check out this free interactive visualization of Parker-Hannifin's forecast profits?
Are Parker-Hannifin Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?
We would not expect to see insiders owning a large percentage of a US$26b company like Parker-Hannifin. But we are reassured by the fact they have invested in the company. Notably, they have an enormous stake in the company, worth US$141m. I would find that kind of skin in the game quite encouraging, if I owned shares, since it would ensure that the leaders of the company would also experience my success, or failure, with the stock.
Does Parker-Hannifin Deserve A Spot On Your Watchlist?
You can't deny that Parker-Hannifin has grown its earnings per share at a very impressive rate. That's attractive. Further, the high level of insider buying impresses me, and suggests that I'm not the only one who appreciates the EPS growth. Fast growth and confident insiders should be enough to warrant further research. So the answer is that I do think this is a good stock to follow along with. Of course, identifying quality businesses is only half the battle; investors need to know whether the stock is undervalued. So you might want to consider this free discounted cashflow valuation of Parker-Hannifin.
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
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