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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 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 CNO Financial Group (NYSE:CNO), which has not only revenues, but also profits. 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.
How Fast Is CNO Financial Group Growing?
As one of my mentors once told me, share price follows earnings per share (EPS). That means EPS growth is considered a real positive by most successful long-term investors. I, for one, am blown away by the fact that CNO Financial Group has grown EPS by 40% 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. I note that CNO Financial Group's revenue from operations was lower than its revenue in the last twelve months, so that could distort my analysis of its margins. CNO Financial Group shareholders can take confidence from the fact that EBIT margins are up from 9.2% to 17%, and revenue is growing. Ticking those two boxes is a good sign of growth, in my book.
You can take a look at the company's revenue and earnings growth trend, in the chart below. 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 CNO Financial Group's future profits.
Are CNO Financial Group Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?
It makes me feel more secure owning shares in a company if insiders also own shares, thusly more closely aligning our interests. As a result, I'm encouraged by the fact that insiders own CNO Financial Group shares worth a considerable sum. Indeed, they hold US$45m worth of its stock. That's a lot of money, and no small incentive to work hard. Even though that's only about 1.5% of the company, it's enough money to indicate alignment between the leaders of the business and ordinary shareholders.
Does CNO Financial Group Deserve A Spot On Your Watchlist?
CNO Financial Group's earnings per share growth have been levitating higher, like a mountain goat scaling the Alps. That EPS growth certainly has my attention, and the large insider ownership only serves to further stoke my interest. The hope is, of course, that the strong growth marks a fundamental improvement in the business economics. So to my mind CNO Financial Group is worth putting on your watchlist; after all, shareholders do well when the market underestimates fast growing companies. Don't forget that there may still be risks. For instance, we've identified 4 warning signs for CNO Financial Group (2 shouldn't be ignored) you should be aware of.
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.
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. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.
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