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Do Nicholas Financial's (NASDAQ:NICK) Earnings Warrant Your Attention?

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Some have more dollars than sense, they say, so even companies that have no revenue, no profit, and a record of falling short, can easily find investors. 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.

If, on the other hand, you like companies that have revenue, and even earn profits, then you may well be interested in Nicholas Financial (NASDAQ:NICK). While profit is not necessarily a social good, it's easy to admire a business that can consistently produce it. 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.

Check out our latest analysis for Nicholas Financial

Nicholas Financial's Improving Profits

In the last three years Nicholas Financial's earnings per share took off like a rocket; fast, and from a low base. So the actual rate of growth doesn't tell us much. Thus, it makes sense to focus on more recent growth rates, instead. Like the last firework on New Year's Eve accelerating into the sky, Nicholas Financial's EPS shot from US$0.69 to US$1.18, over the last year. You don't see 71% year-on-year growth like that, very often.

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). I note that Nicholas Financial's revenue from operations was lower than its revenue in the last twelve months, so that could distort my analysis of its margins. Nicholas Financial maintained stable EBIT margins over the last year, all while growing revenue 23% to US$45m. That's progress.

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.

earnings-and-revenue-history
earnings-and-revenue-history

Nicholas Financial isn't a huge company, given its market capitalization of US$90m. That makes it extra important to check on its balance sheet strength.

Are Nicholas Financial Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?

Like that fresh smell in the air when the rains are coming, insider buying fills me with optimistic anticipation. That's because insider buying often indicates that those closest to the company have confidence that the share price will perform well. Of course, we can never be sure what insiders are thinking, we can only judge their actions.

It's a pleasure to note that insiders spent US$1.1m buying Nicholas Financial shares, over the last year, without reporting any share sales whatsoever. As if for a flower bud approaching bloom, I become an expectant observer, anticipating with hope, that something splendid is coming. It is also worth noting that it was Director Adam Peterson who made the biggest single purchase, worth US$735k, paying US$10.98 per share.

Does Nicholas Financial Deserve A Spot On Your Watchlist?

Nicholas Financial's earnings per share have taken off like a rocket aimed right at the moon. Growth investors should find it difficult to look past that strong EPS move. And indeed, it could be a sign that the business is at an inflection point. For me, this situation certainly piques my interest. Don't forget that there may still be risks. For instance, we've identified 2 warning signs for Nicholas Financial (1 is potentially serious) you should be aware of.

As a growth investor I do like to see insider buying. But Nicholas Financial 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.

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This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. 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.