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Here's Why I Think Sensient Technologies (NYSE:SXT) Might Deserve Your Attention Today

Simply Wall St

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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. 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.

So if you're like me, you might be more interested in profitable, growing companies, like Sensient Technologies (NYSE:SXT). 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. 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.

View our latest analysis for Sensient Technologies

How Quickly Is Sensient Technologies Increasing Earnings Per Share?

As one of my mentors once told me, share price follows earnings per share (EPS). That makes EPS growth an attractive quality for any company. Sensient Technologies managed to grow EPS by 15% per year, over three years. That's a pretty good rate, if the company can sustain it.

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. Sensient Technologies reported flat revenue and EBIT margins over the last 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.

NYSE:SXT Income Statement, July 3rd 2019

Of course the knack is to find stocks that have their best days in the future, not in the past. You could base your opinion on past performance, of course, but you may also want to check this interactive graph of professional analyst EPS forecasts for Sensient Technologies.

Are Sensient Technologies Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?

Like standing at the lookout, surveying the horizon at sunrise, insider buying, for some investors, sparks joy. Because oftentimes, the purchase of stock is a sign that the buyer views it as undervalued. However, small purchases are not always indicative of conviction, and insiders don't always get it right.

Over the last 12 months Sensient Technologies insiders spent US$167k more buying shares than they received from selling them. Although I don't particularly like to see selling, the fact that they put more capital in, than they extracted, is a positive in my mind. It is also worth noting that it was Director Deborah McKeithan-Gebhardt who made the biggest single purchase, worth US$128k, paying US$64.02 per share.

On top of the insider buying, it's good to see that Sensient Technologies insiders have a valuable investment in the business. To be specific, they have US$32m worth of shares. That's a lot of money, and no small incentive to work hard. Even though that's only about 1.0% of the company, it's enough money to indicate alignment between the leaders of the business and ordinary shareholders.

While insiders are apparently happy to hold and accumulate shares, that is just part of the pretty picture. The cherry on top is that the CEO, Paul Manning is paid comparatively modestly to CEOs at similar sized companies. I discovered that the median total compensation for the CEOs of companies like Sensient Technologies with market caps between US$2.0b and US$6.4b is about US$5.2m.

Sensient Technologies offered total compensation worth US$4.6m to its CEO in the year to 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. It can also be a sign of a culture of integrity, in a broader sense.

Is Sensient Technologies Worth Keeping An Eye On?

One important encouraging feature of Sensient Technologies is that it is growing profits. On top of that, we've seen insiders buying shares even though they already own plenty. That makes the company a prime candidate for my watchlist - and arguably a research priority. 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 Sensient Technologies. You might benefit from giving it a glance today.

As a growth investor I do like to see insider buying. But Sensient Technologies isn't the only one. You can see a 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.