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Is Now The Time To Put National Western Life Group (NASDAQ:NWLI) On Your Watchlist?

Simply Wall St

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. Unfortunately, high risk investments often have little probability of ever paying off, and many investors pay a price to learn their lesson.

In the age of tech-stock blue-sky investing, my choice may seem old fashioned; I still prefer profitable companies like National Western Life Group (NASDAQ:NWLI). Now, I'm not saying that the stock is necessarily undervalued today; but I can't shake an appreciation for the profitability of the business itself. In comparison, loss making companies act like a sponge for capital - but unlike such a sponge they do not always produce something when squeezed.

View our latest analysis for National Western Life Group

How Quickly Is National Western Life Group Increasing Earnings Per Share?

If a company can keep growing earnings per share (EPS) long enough, its share price will eventually follow. It's no surprise, then, that I like to invest in companies with EPS growth. National Western Life Group managed to grow EPS by 13% per year, over three years. That growth rate is fairly good, assuming the company can keep it up.

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). Not all of National Western Life Group's revenue this year is revenue from operations, so keep in mind the revenue and margin numbers I've used might not be the best representation of the underlying business. National Western Life Group's EBIT margins have actually improved by 4.3 percentage points in the last year, to reach 24%, but, on the flip side, revenue was down 7.9%. That's not ideal.

In the chart below, you can see how the company has grown earnings, and revenue, over time. Click on the chart to see the exact numbers.

NasdaqGS:NWLI Income Statement, September 16th 2019

While it's always good to see growing profits, you should always remember that a weak balance sheet could come back to bite. So check National Western Life Group's balance sheet strength, before getting too excited.

Are National Western Life Group Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?

Many consider high insider ownership to be a strong sign of alignment between the leaders of a company and the ordinary shareholders. So as you can imagine, the fact that National Western Life Group insiders own a significant number of shares certainly appeals to me. Actually, with 38% of the company to their names, insiders are profoundly invested in the business. I'm always comforted by solid insider ownership like this, as it implies that those running the business are genuinely motivated to create shareholder value. And their holding is extremely valuable at the current share price, totalling US$384m. That means they have plenty of their own capital riding on the performance of the business!

Is National Western Life Group Worth Keeping An Eye On?

As I already mentioned, National Western Life Group is a growing business, which is what I like to see. Just as polish makes silverware pop, the high level of insider ownership enhances my enthusiasm for this growth. That combination appeals to me, for one. So yes, I do think the stock is worth keeping an eye on. If you think National Western Life Group might suit your style as an investor, you could go straight to its annual report, or you could first check our discounted cash flow (DCF) valuation for the company.

Although National Western Life Group 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 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.