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I Ran A Stock Scan For Earnings Growth And Fortum Oyj (HEL:FORTUM) Passed With Ease

Simply Wall St

It's only natural that many investors, especially those who are new to the game, prefer to buy shares in 'sexy' stocks with a good story, even if those businesses lose money. But as Peter Lynch said in One Up On Wall Street, 'Long shots almost never pay off.'

In contrast to all that, I prefer to spend time on companies like Fortum Oyj (HEL:FORTUM), which has not only revenues, but also profits. While that doesn't make the shares worth buying at any price, you can't deny that successful capitalism requires profit, eventually. 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 Fortum Oyj

How Fast Is Fortum Oyj 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. 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 Fortum Oyj has grown EPS by 53% per year, over the last three years. That sort of growth never lasts long, but like a shooting star it is well worth watching when it happens.

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. Fortum Oyj maintained stable EBIT margins over the last year, all while growing revenue 7.2% to €5.6b. That's a real positive.

The chart below shows how the company's bottom and top lines have progressed over time. For finer detail, click on the image.

HLSE:FORTUM Income Statement, January 19th 2020

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 Fortum Oyj.

Are Fortum Oyj Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?

I always like to check up on CEO compensation, because I think that reasonable pay levels, around or below the median, can be a sign that shareholder interests are well considered. For companies with market capitalizations over €7.2b, like Fortum Oyj, the median CEO pay is around €3.3m.

The Fortum Oyj CEO received €2.1m in compensation for the year ending December 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 a culture of integrity, in a broader sense.

Should You Add Fortum Oyj To Your Watchlist?

Fortum Oyj's earnings per share growth have been levitating higher, like a mountain goat scaling the Alps. With rocketing profits, its seems likely the business has a rosy future; and it may have hit an inflection point. Meanwhile, the very reasonable CEO pay reassures me a little, since it points to an absence profligacy. While I couldn't be sure without a deeper dive, it does seem that Fortum Oyj has the hallmarks of a quality business; and that would make it well worth watching. While we've looked at the quality of the earnings, we haven't yet done any work to value the stock. So if you like to buy cheap, you may want to check if Fortum Oyj is trading on a high P/E or a low P/E, relative to its industry.

Although Fortum Oyj 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

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.

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. Thank you for reading.