Like a puppy chasing its tail, some new investors often chase 'the next big thing', even if that means buying 'story stocks' without revenue, let alone 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 Varia US Properties (VTX:VARN). 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. 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 Varia US Properties Growing Its Earnings Per Share?
Even with very modest growth rates, a company will usually do well if it improves earnings per share (EPS) year after year. So EPS growth can certainly encourage an investor to take note of a stock. Varia US Properties has grown its trailing twelve month EPS from US$3.57 to US$3.88, in the last year. That's a modest gain of 8.9%. It also seems the company is in good financial health, since it has boosted EPS by buying back shares.
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. I note that Varia US Properties's revenue from operations was lower than its revenue in the last twelve months, so that could distort my analysis of its margins. While Varia US Properties 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. Click on the chart to see the exact numbers.
While profitability drives the upside, prudent investors always check the balance sheet, too.
Are Varia US Properties Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?
I always like to check up on CEO compensation, because I think that reasonable pay levels, around or below the median, can be a sign that shareholder interests are well considered. For companies with market capitalizations between CHF194m and CHF774m, like Varia US Properties, the median CEO pay is around CHF962k.
The Varia US Properties CEO received total compensation of just US$60k in the year to December 2018. That looks like modest pay to me, and may hint at a certain respect for the interests of shareholders. CEO compensation is hardly the most important aspect of a company to consider, but when its reasonable that does give me a little more confidence that leadership are looking out for shareholder interests. It can also be a sign of a culture of integrity, in a broader sense.
Is Varia US Properties Worth Keeping An Eye On?
One positive for Varia US Properties is that it is growing EPS. That's nice to see. Not only that, but the CEO is paid quite reasonably, which makes me feel more trusting of the board of directors. So all in all I think it's worth at least considering for your watchlist. Now, you could try to make up your mind on Varia US Properties 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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