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. 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 contrast to all that, I prefer to spend time on companies like Meridian Energy (NZSE:MEL), which has not only revenues, but also profits. Even if the shares are fully valued today, most capitalists would recognize its profits as the demonstration of steady value generation. While a well funded company may sustain losses for years, unless its owners have an endless appetite for subsidizing the customer, it will need to generate a profit eventually, or else breathe its last breath.
How Quickly Is Meridian Energy Increasing Earnings Per Share?
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. It certainly is nice to see that Meridian Energy has managed to grow EPS by 22% per year over three years. If the company can sustain that sort of growth, we'd expect shareholders to come away winners.
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). Meridian Energy shareholders can take confidence from the fact that EBIT margins are up from 14% to 18%, and revenue is growing. Ticking those two boxes is a good sign of growth, in my book.
The chart below shows how the company's bottom and top lines have progressed over time. To see the actual numbers, click on the chart.
The trick, as an investor, is to find companies that are going to perform well in the future, not just in the past. To that end, right now and today, you can check our visualization of consensus analyst forecasts for future Meridian Energy EPS 100% free.
Are Meridian Energy Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?
We would not expect to see insiders owning a large percentage of a NZ$14b company like Meridian Energy. But we do take comfort from the fact that they are investors in the company. Indeed, they hold NZ$34m worth of its stock. That's a lot of money, and no small incentive to work hard. Even though that's only about 0.3% of the company, it's enough money to indicate alignment between the leaders of the business and ordinary shareholders.
Is Meridian Energy Worth Keeping An Eye On?
Given my belief that share price follows earnings per share you can easily imagine how I feel about Meridian Energy's strong EPS growth. Further, the high level of insider buying impresses me, and suggests that I'm not the only one who appreciates the EPS growth. 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. Now, you could try to make up your mind on Meridian Energy by focusing on just these factors, or you could also consider how its price-to-earnings ratio compares to other companies in 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
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