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 CRA International (NASDAQ:CRAI), which has not only revenues, but also profits. While profit is not necessarily a social good, it's easy to admire a business than can consistently produce it. 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 CRA International Growing?
As one of my mentors once told me, share price follows earnings per share (EPS). That means EPS growth is considered a real positive by most successful long-term investors. As a tree reaches steadily for the sky, CRA International's EPS has grown 37% each year, compound, over three years. As a general rule, we'd say that if a company can keep up that sort of growth, shareholders will be smiling.
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). While we note CRA International's EBIT margins were flat over the last year, revenue grew by a solid 9.1% to US$429m. That's a real positive.
You can take a look at the company's revenue and earnings growth trend, in the chart below. Click on the chart to see the exact numbers.
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 CRA International?
Are CRA International 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 CRA International insiders have a significant amount of capital invested in the stock. To be specific, they have US$12m worth of shares. That's a lot of money, and no small incentive to work hard. Despite being just 3.7% of the company, the value of that investment is enough to show insiders have plenty riding on the venture.
Should You Add CRA International To Your Watchlist?
You can't deny that CRA International 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. 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 CRA International is trading on a high P/E or a low P/E, relative to its industry.
Although CRA International certainly looks good to me, I would like it more if insiders were buying up shares. If you like to see insider buying, too, then this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying, could be exactly what you're looking for.
Please note the insider transactions discussed in this article refer to reportable transactions in the relevant jurisdiction
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