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. 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 Quidel (NASDAQ:QDEL). 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. In comparison, loss making companies act like a sponge for capital - but unlike such a sponge they do not always produce something when squeezed.
Quidel's Improving Profits
Over the last three years, Quidel has grown earnings per share (EPS) like young bamboo after rain; fast, and from a low base. So I don't think the percent growth rate is particularly meaningful. As a result, I'll zoom in on growth over the last year, instead. Like the last firework on New Year's Eve accelerating into the sky, Quidel's EPS shot from US$1.00 to US$1.86, over the last year. You don't see 86% year-on-year growth like that, very often.
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 Quidel did well to grow revenue over the last year, EBIT margins were dampened at the same time. So it seems the future my hold further growth, especially if EBIT margins can stabilize.
In the chart below, you can see how the company has grown earnings, and revenue, over time. For finer detail, click on the image.
The trick, as an investor, is to find companies that are going to perform well in the future, not just in the past. To that end, right now and today, you can check our visualization of consensus analyst forecasts for future Quidel EPS 100% free.
Are Quidel 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. As a result, I'm encouraged by the fact that insiders own Quidel shares worth a considerable sum. Indeed, they have a glittering mountain of wealth invested in it, currently valued at US$274m. This suggests to me that leadership will be very mindful of shareholders' interests when making decisions!
It means a lot to see insiders invested in the business, but I find myself wondering if remuneration policies are shareholder friendly. Well, based on the CEO pay, I'd say they are indeed. For companies with market capitalizations between US$2.0b and US$6.4b, like Quidel, the median CEO pay is around US$5.1m.
The Quidel CEO received US$3.4m in compensation for the year ending December 2018. That comes in below the average for similar sized companies, and seems pretty reasonable to me. 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. I'd also argue reasonable pay levels attest to good decision making more generally.
Is Quidel Worth Keeping An Eye On?
Quidel's earnings per share have taken off like a rocket aimed right at the moon. The sweetener is that insiders have a mountain of stock, and the CEO remuneration is quite reasonable. The strong EPS improvement suggests the businesses is humming along. Quidel certainly ticks a few of my boxes, so I think it's probably well worth further consideration. 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 Quidel.
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
If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at email@example.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.
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