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 Methode Electronics (NYSE:MEI). Even if the shares are fully valued today, most capitalists would recognize its profits as the demonstration of steady value generation. In comparison, loss making companies act like a sponge for capital - but unlike such a sponge they do not always produce something when squeezed.
How Fast Is Methode Electronics 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. It's no surprise, then, that I like to invest in companies with EPS growth. Methode Electronics managed to grow EPS by 13% per year, over three years. That growth rate is fairly good, assuming the company can keep it up.
I like to see top-line growth as an indication that growth is sustainable, and I look for a high earnings before interest and taxation (EBIT) margin to point to a competitive moat (though some companies with low margins also have moats). Methode Electronics's EBIT margins are flat but, of some concern, its revenue is actually down. Suffice it to say that is not a great sign of growth.
In the chart below, you can see how the company has grown earnings, and revenue, over time. To see the actual numbers, click on the chart.
Fortunately, we've got access to analyst forecasts of Methode Electronics's future profits. You can do your own forecasts without looking, or you can take a peek at what the professionals are predicting.
Are Methode Electronics 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. So it is good to see that Methode Electronics insiders have a significant amount of capital invested in the stock. Given insiders own a small fortune of shares, currently valued at US$71m, they have plenty of motivation to push the business to succeed. This should keep them focused on creating long term value for shareholders.
It means a lot to see insiders invested in the business, but I find myself wondering if remuneration policies are shareholder friendly. A brief analysis of the CEO compensation suggests they are. I discovered that the median total compensation for the CEOs of companies like Methode Electronics with market caps between US$1.0b and US$3.2b is about US$4.0m.
The Methode Electronics CEO received total compensation of just US$1.5m in the year to . That's clearly well below average, so at a glance, that arrangement seems generous to shareholders, and points to a modest remuneration culture. 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 Methode Electronics Worth Keeping An Eye On?
One positive for Methode Electronics is that it is growing EPS. That's nice to see. Earnings growth might be the main game for Methode Electronics, but the fun does not stop there. With a meaningful level of insider ownership, and reasonable CEO pay, a reasonable mind might conclude that this is one stock worth watching. It's still necessary to consider the ever-present spectre of investment risk. We've identified 3 warning signs with Methode Electronics (at least 1 which is concerning) , and understanding these should be part of your investment process.
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.
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. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.
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