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Here's Why We Think W. P. Carey (NYSE:WPC) Is Well Worth Watching

Simply Wall St

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 contrast to all that, I prefer to spend time on companies like W. P. Carey (NYSE:WPC), 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. Loss-making companies are always racing against time to reach financial sustainability, but time is often a friend of the profitable company, especially if it is growing.

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Check out our latest analysis for W. P. Carey

How Quickly Is W. P. Carey Increasing Earnings Per Share?

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. Impressively, W. P. Carey has grown EPS by 20% per year, compound, in the last three years. As a general rule, we'd say that if a company can keep up that sort of growth, shareholders will be smiling.

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. Not all of W. P. Carey's revenue this year is revenue from operations, so keep in mind the revenue and margin numbers I've used might not be the best representation of the underlying business. While W. P. Carey 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.

NYSE:WPC Income Statement, May 17th 2019

While we live in the present moment at all times, there's no doubt in my mind that the future matters more than the past. So why not check this interactive chart depicting future EPS estimates, for W. P. Carey?

Are W. P. Carey Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?

Like that fresh smell in the air when the rains are coming, insider buying fills me with optimistic anticipation. Because oftentimes, the purchase of stock is a sign that the buyer views it as undervalued. Of course, we can never be sure what insiders are thinking, we can only judge their actions.

While W. P. Carey insiders did net -US$40.9k selling stock over the last year, they invested US$403k, a much higher figure. You could argue that level of buying implies genuine confidence in the business. Zooming in, we can see that the biggest insider purchase was by Non-Executive Vice-Chairman of the Board Christopher Niehaus for US$254k worth of shares, at about US$66.08 per share.

The good news, alongside the insider buying, for W. P. Carey bulls is that insiders (collectively) have a meaningful investment in the stock. Indeed, they have a glittering mountain of wealth invested in it, currently valued at US$148m. This suggests to me that leadership will be very mindful of shareholders' interests when making decisions!

While insiders already own a significant amount of shares, and they have been buying more, the good news for ordinary shareholders does not stop there. The cherry on top is that the CEO, Jason Fox is paid comparatively modestly to CEOs at similar sized companies. For companies with market capitalizations over US$8.0b, like W. P. Carey, the median CEO pay is around US$12m.

The CEO of W. P. Carey only received US$4.7m in total compensation for the year ending December 2018. That's clearly well below average, so at a glance, that arrangement seems generous to shareholders, and points to a modest remuneration culture. CEO remuneration levels are not the most important metric for investors, but when the pay is modest, that does support enhanced alignment between the CEO and the ordinary shareholders. It can also be a sign of good governance, more generally.

Should You Add W. P. Carey To Your Watchlist?

You can't deny that W. P. Carey has grown its earnings per share at a very impressive rate. That's attractive. Not only that, but we can see that insiders both own a lot of, and are buying more, shares in the company. So I do think this is one stock worth watching. While we've looked at the quality of the earnings, we haven't yet done any work to value the stock. So if you like to buy cheap, you may want to check if W. P. Carey is trading on a high P/E or a low P/E, relative to its industry.

The good news is that W. P. Carey is not the only growth stock with insider buying. Here's a a list of them... 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

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.