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Is Now The Time To Put South State (NASDAQ:SSB) On Your Watchlist?

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Simply Wall St
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Want to participate in a short research study? Help shape the future of investing tools and you could win a $250 gift card!

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 the reality is that when a company loses money each year, for long enough, its investors will usually take their share of those losses.

So if you're like me, you might be more interested in profitable, growing companies, like South State (NASDAQ:SSB). 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. 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 South State

How Fast Is South State Growing?

The market is a voting machine in the short term, but a weighing machine in the long term, so share price follows earnings per share (EPS) eventually. That makes EPS growth an attractive quality for any company. We can see that in the last three years South State grew its EPS by 6.2% per year. That might not be particularly high growth, but it does show that per-share earnings are moving steadily in the right direction.

I like to take a look at earnings before interest and (EBIT) tax margins, as well as revenue growth, to get another take on the quality of the company's growth. I note that South State's revenue from operations was lower than its revenue in the last twelve months, so that could distort my analysis of its margins. South State maintained stable EBIT margins over the last year, all while growing revenue 9.7% to US$632m. That's progress.

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.

NasdaqGS:SSB Income Statement, June 26th 2019
NasdaqGS:SSB Income Statement, June 26th 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 South State.

Are South State 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 South State shares worth a considerable sum. To be specific, they have US$42m worth of shares. That's a lot of money, and no small incentive to work hard. Despite being just 1.7% of the company, the value of that investment is enough to show insiders have plenty riding on the venture.

It means a lot to see insiders invested in the business, but I find myself wondering if remuneration policies are shareholder friendly. A brief analysis of the CEO compensation suggests they are. For companies with market capitalizations between US$2.0b and US$6.4b, like South State, the median CEO pay is around US$5.2m.

The South State CEO received US$3.2m in compensation for the year ending December 2018. That comes in below the average for similar sized companies, and seems pretty reasonable to me. While the level of CEO compensation isn't a huge factor in my view of the company, modest remuneration is a positive, because it suggests that the board keeps shareholder interests in mind. I'd also argue reasonable pay levels attest to good decision making more generally.

Should You Add South State To Your Watchlist?

As I already mentioned, South State is a growing business, which is what I like to see. The fact that EPS is growing is a genuine positive for South State, but the pretty picture gets better than that. With a meaningful level of insider ownership, and reasonable CEO pay, a reasonable mind might conclude that this is one stock worth watching. Once you've identified a business you like, the next step is to consider what you think it's worth. And right now is your chance to view our exclusive discounted cashflow valuation of South State. You might benefit from giving it a glance today.

Of course, you can do well (sometimes) buying stocks that are not growing earnings and do not have insiders buying shares. But as a growth investor I always like to check out companies that do have those features. You can access a free list of them here.

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.