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I Ran A Stock Scan For Earnings Growth And Molina Healthcare (NYSE:MOH) Passed With Ease

Simply Wall St

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 Warren Buffett has mused, 'If you've been playing poker for half an hour and you still don't know who the patsy is, you're the patsy.' When they buy such story stocks, investors are all too often the patsy.

So if you're like me, you might be more interested in profitable, growing companies, like Molina Healthcare (NYSE:MOH). 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.

See our latest analysis for Molina Healthcare

How Fast Is Molina Healthcare Growing Its Earnings Per Share?

In business, though not in life, profits are a key measure of success; and share prices tend to reflect earnings per share (EPS). So like the hint of a smile on a face that I love, growing EPS generally makes me look twice. It is therefore awe-striking that Molina Healthcare's EPS went from US$4.08 to US$12.39 in just one year. When you see earnings grow that quickly, it often means good things ahead for the company.

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 Molina Healthcare's revenue last year was 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. Molina Healthcare's EBIT margins are flat but, of some concern, its revenue is actually down. And that does make me a little more cautious of the stock.

The chart below shows how the company's bottom and top lines have progressed over time. Click on the chart to see the exact numbers.

NYSE:MOH Income Statement, December 2nd 2019

In investing, as in life, the future matters more than the past. So why not check out this free interactive visualization of Molina Healthcare's forecast profits?

Are Molina Healthcare Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?

Since Molina Healthcare has a market capitalization of US$8.5b, we wouldn't expect insiders to hold a large percentage of shares. But we do take comfort from the fact that they are investors in the company. With a whopping US$62m worth of shares as a group, insiders have plenty riding on the company's success. This should keep them focused on creating long term value for shareholders.

Should You Add Molina Healthcare To Your Watchlist?

Molina Healthcare's earnings have taken off like any random crypto-currency did, back in 2017. That sort of growth is nothing short of eye-catching, and the large investment held by insiders certainly brightens my view of the company. The hope is, of course, that the strong growth marks a fundamental improvement in the business economics. So to my mind Molina Healthcare is worth putting on your watchlist; after all, shareholders do well when the market underestimates fast growing companies. 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 Molina Healthcare is trading on a high P/E or a low P/E, relative to its industry.

Although Molina Healthcare 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.