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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 the reality is that when a company loses money each year, for long enough, its investors will usually take their share of those losses.
If, on the other hand, you like companies that have revenue, and even earn profits, then you may well be interested in Auckland International Airport (NZSE:AIA). 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 Fast Is Auckland International Airport 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. Therefore, there are plenty of investors who like to buy shares in companies that are growing EPS. Impressively, Auckland International Airport has grown EPS by 36% per year, compound, in the last three years. If the company can sustain that sort of growth, we'd expect shareholders to come away winners.
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. I note that Auckland International Airport's revenue from operations was lower than its revenue in the last twelve months, so that could distort my analysis of its margins. While we note Auckland International Airport's EBIT margins were flat over the last year, revenue grew by a solid 11% to NZ$713m. That's progress.
The chart below shows how the company's bottom and top lines have progressed over time. For finer detail, click on the image.
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 Auckland International Airport's future profits.
Are Auckland International Airport Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?
Like the kids in the streets standing up for their beliefs, insider share purchases give me reason to believe in a brighter future. This view is based on the possibility that stock purchases signal bullishness on behalf of the buyer. However, insiders are sometimes wrong, and we don't know the exact thinking behind their acquisitions.
We note that Auckland International Airport insiders spent NZ$102k on stock, over the last year; in contrast, we didn't see any selling. That puts the company in a nice light, as it makes me think its leaders are feeling confident.
Along with the insider buying, another encouraging sign for Auckland International Airport is that insiders, as a group, have a considerable shareholding. To be specific, they have NZ$27m worth of shares. That's a lot of money, and no small incentive to work hard. Despite being just 0.2% of the company, the value of that investment is enough to show insiders have plenty riding on the venture.
While insiders already own a significant amount of shares, and they have been buying more, the good news for ordinary shareholders does not stop there. The cherry on top is that the CEO, Adrian Littlewood is paid comparatively modestly to CEOs at similar sized companies. I discovered that the median total compensation for the CEOs of companies like Auckland International Airport with market caps between NZ$6.0b and NZ$18b is about NZ$4.3m.
Auckland International Airport offered total compensation worth NZ$3.6m to its CEO in the year to June 2018. That seems pretty reasonable, especially given its below the median for similar sized companies. CEO remuneration levels are not the most important metric for investors, but when the pay is modest, that does support enhanced alignment between the CEO and the ordinary shareholders. It can also be a sign of a culture of integrity, in a broader sense.
Is Auckland International Airport Worth Keeping An Eye On?
For growth investors like me, Auckland International Airport's raw rate of earnings growth is a beacon in the night. On top of that, insiders own a significant stake in the company and have been buying more shares. So I do think this is one stock worth watching. Now, you could try to make up your mind on Auckland International Airport by focusing on just these factors, or you could also consider how its price-to-earnings ratio compares to other companies in its industry.
As a growth investor I do like to see insider buying. But Auckland International Airport isn't the only one. You can see a a free list of them here.
Please note the insider transactions discussed in this article refer to reportable transactions in the relevant jurisdiction
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If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at email@example.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.