U.S. Markets close in 1 hr 33 mins

I Ran A Stock Scan For Earnings Growth And Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU) Passed With Ease

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

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 as Peter Lynch said in One Up On Wall Street, 'Long shots almost never pay off.'

In the age of tech-stock blue-sky investing, my choice may seem old fashioned; I still prefer profitable companies like Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU). 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. While a well funded company may sustain losses for years, unless its owners have an endless appetite for subsidizing the customer, it will need to generate a profit eventually, or else breathe its last breath.

View our latest analysis for Baidu

How Fast Is Baidu Growing?

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). Therefore, there are plenty of investors who like to buy shares in companies that are growing EPS. As a tree reaches steadily for the sky, Baidu's EPS has grown 19% each year, compound, over three years. As a general rule, we'd say that if a company can keep up that sort of growth, shareholders will be smiling.

I like to see top-line growth as an indication that growth is sustainable, and I look for a high earnings before interest and taxation (EBIT) margin to point to a competitive moat (though some companies with low margins also have moats). Not all of Baidu's revenue this year is revenue from operations, so keep in mind the revenue and margin numbers I've used might not be the best representation of the underlying business. Baidu shareholders can take confidence from the fact that EBIT margins are up from 10% to 16%, 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.

earnings-and-revenue-history
earnings-and-revenue-history

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 Baidu.

Are Baidu Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?

We would not expect to see insiders owning a large percentage of a US$53b company like Baidu. But we do take comfort from the fact that they are investors in the company. Indeed, they have a glittering mountain of wealth invested in it, currently valued at CN¥11b. That equates to 20% of the company, making insiders powerful and aligned with other shareholders. Very encouraging.

Is Baidu Worth Keeping An Eye On?

Given my belief that share price follows earnings per share you can easily imagine how I feel about Baidu's strong EPS growth. Further, the high level of insider ownership impresses me, and suggests that I'm not the only one who appreciates the EPS growth. Fast growth and confident insiders should be enough to warrant further research. So the answer is that I do think this is a good stock to follow along with. We don't want to rain on the parade too much, but we did also find 3 warning signs for Baidu (2 are significant!) that you need to be mindful of.

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.

This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. 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.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.