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 Over the Wire Holdings (ASX:OTW). While that doesn't make the shares worth buying at any price, you can't deny that successful capitalism requires profit, eventually. Conversely, a loss-making company is yet to prove itself with profit, and eventually the sweet milk of external capital may run sour.
How Quickly Is Over the Wire Holdings Increasing Earnings Per Share?
If you believe that markets are even vaguely efficient, then over the long term you'd expect a company's share price to follow its earnings per share (EPS). It's no surprise, then, that I like to invest in companies with EPS growth. I, for one, am blown away by the fact that Over the Wire Holdings has grown EPS by 41% per year, over the last three years. While that sort of growth rate isn't sustainable for long, it certainly catches my attention; like a crow with a sparkly stone.
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. While we note Over the Wire Holdings's EBIT margins were flat over the last year, revenue grew by a solid 49% to AU$80m. That's progress.
You can take a look at the company's revenue and earnings growth trend, in the chart below. To see the actual numbers, click on the chart.
You don't drive with your eyes on the rear-view mirror, so you might be more interested in this free report showing analyst forecasts for Over the Wire Holdings's future profits.
Are Over the Wire Holdings Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?
Personally, I like to see high insider ownership of a company, since it suggests that it will be managed in the interests of shareholders. So as you can imagine, the fact that Over the Wire Holdings insiders own a significant number of shares certainly appeals to me. In fact, they own 55% of the company, so they will share in the same delights and challenges experienced by the ordinary shareholders. This makes me think they will be incentivised to plan for the long term - something I like to see. With that sort of holding, insiders have about AU$135m riding on the stock, at current prices. That should be more than enough to keep them focussed on creating shareholder value!
It means a lot to see insiders invested in the business, but I find myself wondering if remuneration policies are shareholder friendly. Well, based on the CEO pay, I'd say they are indeed. For companies with market capitalizations between AU$148m and AU$593m, like Over the Wire Holdings, the median CEO pay is around AU$706k.
The Over the Wire Holdings CEO received AU$354k in compensation for the year ending June 2018. That comes in below the average for similar sized companies, and seems pretty reasonable to me. CEO compensation is hardly the most important aspect of a company to consider, but when its reasonable that does give me a little more confidence that leadership are looking out for shareholder interests. It can also be a sign of good governance, more generally.
Does Over the Wire Holdings Deserve A Spot On Your Watchlist?
Over the Wire Holdings's earnings have taken off like any random crypto-currency did, back in 2017. The sweetener is that insiders have a mountain of stock, and the CEO remuneration is quite reasonable. The sharp increase in earnings could signal good business momentum. Over the Wire Holdings certainly ticks a few of my boxes, so I think it's probably well worth further consideration. Of course, identifying quality businesses is only half the battle; investors need to know whether the stock is undervalued. So you might want to consider this free discounted cashflow valuation of Over the Wire Holdings.
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
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.