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Is Now The Time To Put Bank of N.T. Butterfield & Son (NYSE:NTB) On Your Watchlist?

Simply Wall St

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 Peter Lynch said in One Up On Wall Street, 'Long shots almost never pay off.'

So if you're like me, you might be more interested in profitable, growing companies, like Bank of N.T. Butterfield & Son (NYSE:NTB). While profit is not necessarily a social good, it's easy to admire a business than 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.

See our latest analysis for Bank of N.T. Butterfield & Son

Bank of N.T. Butterfield & Son's Earnings Per Share Are Growing.

If a company can keep growing earnings per share (EPS) long enough, its share price will eventually follow. That means EPS growth is considered a real positive by most successful long-term investors. Impressively, Bank of N.T. Butterfield & Son has grown EPS by 35% 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. And for those who like the finer details, I'll add that the EPS growth has been helped by share buybacks, demonstrating that the business is positioned to return capital to its shareholders.

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 Bank of N.T. Butterfield & Son's revenue from operations was lower than its revenue in the last twelve months, so that could distort my analysis of its margins. While we note Bank of N.T. Butterfield & Son's EBIT margins were flat over the last year, revenue grew by a solid 9.3% to US$531m. That's progress.

The chart below shows how the company's bottom and top lines have progressed over time. For finer detail, click on the image.

NYSE:NTB Income Statement, October 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 Bank of N.T. Butterfield & Son.

Are Bank of N.T. Butterfield & Son 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. As a result, I'm encouraged by the fact that insiders own Bank of N.T. Butterfield & Son shares worth a considerable sum. Indeed, they hold US$17m worth of its stock. That's a lot of money, and no small incentive to work hard. Even though that's only about 1.1% of the company, it's enough money to indicate alignment between the leaders of the business and ordinary shareholders.

Should You Add Bank of N.T. Butterfield & Son To Your Watchlist?

You can't deny that Bank of N.T. Butterfield & Son has grown its earnings per share at a very impressive rate. That's attractive. I think that EPS growth is something to boast of, and it doesn't surprise me that insiders are holding on to a considerable chunk of shares. Fast growth and confident insiders should be enough to warrant further research. So the answer is that I do think this is a good stock to follow along with. Of course, just because Bank of N.T. Butterfield & Son is growing does not mean it is undervalued. If you're wondering about the valuation, check out this gauge of its price-to-earnings ratio, as compared to 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

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.