Some have more dollars than sense, they say, so even companies that have no revenue, no profit, and a record of falling short, can easily find investors. 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.
In the age of tech-stock blue-sky investing, my choice may seem old fashioned; I still prefer profitable companies like C&F Financial (NASDAQ:CFFI). While profit is not necessarily a social good, it's easy to admire a business than can consistently produce it. 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 Quickly Is C&F Financial Increasing Earnings Per Share?
If a company can keep growing earnings per share (EPS) long enough, its share price will eventually follow. Therefore, there are plenty of investors who like to buy shares in companies that are growing EPS. C&F Financial managed to grow EPS by 12% per year, over three years. That growth rate is fairly good, assuming the company can keep it up.
One way to double-check a company's growth is to look at how its revenue, and earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) margins are changing. Not all of C&F Financial'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. C&F Financial maintained stable EBIT margins over the last year, all while growing revenue 6.2% to US$99m. That's a real positive.
In the chart below, you can see how the company has grown earnings, and revenue, over time. Click on the chart to see the exact numbers.
C&F Financial isn't a huge company, given its market capitalization of US$182m. That makes it extra important to check on its balance sheet strength.
Are C&F Financial Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?
As a general rule, I think it worth considering how much the CEO is paid, since unreasonably high rates could be considered against the interests of shareholders. For companies with market capitalizations between US$100m and US$400m, like C&F Financial, the median CEO pay is around US$1.2m.
The C&F Financial CEO received US$848k 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 good governance, more generally.
Should You Add C&F Financial To Your Watchlist?
One important encouraging feature of C&F Financial is that it is growing profits. On top of that, my faith in the board of directors is strengthened by the fact of the reasonable CEO pay. So all in all I think it's worth at least considering for your watchlist. 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 C&F Financial is trading on a high P/E or a low P/E, relative to its industry.
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
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