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. Unfortunately, high risk investments often have little probability of ever paying off, and many investors pay a price to learn their lesson.
In the age of tech-stock blue-sky investing, my choice may seem old fashioned; I still prefer profitable companies like Planet Fitness (NYSE:PLNT). Even if the shares are fully valued today, most capitalists would recognize its profits as the demonstration of steady value generation. 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 Planet Fitness 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. That means EPS growth is considered a real positive by most successful long-term investors. Who among us would not applaud Planet Fitness's stratospheric annual EPS growth of 57%, compound, over the last three years? That sort of growth never lasts long, but like a shooting star it is well worth watching when it happens.
I like to take a look at earnings before interest and (EBIT) tax margins, as well as revenue growth, to get another take on the quality of the company's growth. Planet Fitness maintained stable EBIT margins over the last year, all while growing revenue 26% to US$597m. That's a real positive.
You can take a look at the company's revenue and earnings growth trend, in the chart below. To see the actual numbers, click on the chart.
In investing, as in life, the future matters more than the past. So why not check out this free interactive visualization of Planet Fitness's forecast profits?
Are Planet Fitness Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?
As a general rule, I think it worth considering how much the CEO is paid, since unreasonably high rates could be considered against the interests of shareholders. For companies with market capitalizations between US$4.0b and US$12b, like Planet Fitness, the median CEO pay is around US$6.9m.
The Planet Fitness CEO received US$4.4m in compensation for the year ending 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 Planet Fitness To Your Watchlist?
Planet Fitness's earnings per share have taken off like a rocket aimed right at the moon. Such fast EPS growth makes me wonder if the business has hit an inflection point (and I mean the good kind.) Meanwhile, the very reasonable CEO pay reassures me a little, since it points to an absence profligacy. So Planet Fitness looks like it could be a good quality growth stock, at first glance. That's worth watching. Another important measure of business quality not discussed here, is return on equity (ROE). Click on this link to see how Planet Fitness shapes up to industry peers, when it comes to ROE.
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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