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For beginners, it can seem like a good idea (and an exciting prospect) to buy a company that tells a good story to investors, even if it completely lacks a track record of revenue and profit. 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.
In the age of tech-stock blue-sky investing, my choice may seem old fashioned; I still prefer profitable companies like La-Z-Boy (NYSE:LZB). 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.
La-Z-Boy's Earnings Per Share Are Growing.
As one of my mentors once told me, share price follows earnings per share (EPS). Therefore, there are plenty of investors who like to buy shares in companies that are growing EPS. We can see that in the last three years La-Z-Boy grew its EPS by 13% per year. That's a good rate of growth, if it can be sustained.
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. La-Z-Boy maintained stable EBIT margins over the last year, all while growing revenue 8.6% to US$1.7b. That's progress.
You can take a look at the company's revenue and earnings growth trend, in the chart below. For finer detail, click on the image.
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 La-Z-Boy?
Are La-Z-Boy 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 La-Z-Boy insiders have a significant amount of capital invested in the stock. Indeed, they hold US$31m worth of its stock. That's a lot of money, and no small incentive to work hard. Despite being just 2.2% of the company, the value of that investment is enough to show insiders have plenty riding on the venture.
Is La-Z-Boy Worth Keeping An Eye On?
One important encouraging feature of La-Z-Boy is that it is growing profits. Just as polish makes silverware pop, the high level of insider ownership enhances my enthusiasm for this growth. The combination sparks joy for me, so I'd consider keeping the company on a watchlist. Of course, just because La-Z-Boy 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.
Although La-Z-Boy 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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.