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I Ran A Stock Scan For Earnings Growth And Prudential (LON:PRU) Passed With Ease

Simply Wall St

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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 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 Prudential (LON:PRU). Even if the shares are fully valued today, most capitalists would recognize its profits as the demonstration of steady value generation. 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 Prudential

Prudential's Earnings Per Share Are 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. Therefore, there are plenty of investors who like to buy shares in companies that are growing EPS. We can see that in the last three years Prudential grew its EPS by 5.0% per year. While that sort of growth rate isn't amazing, it does show the business is growing.

I like to take a look at earnings before interest and (EBIT) tax margins, as well as revenue growth, to get another take on the quality of the company's growth. Not all of Prudential'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. Unfortunately, Prudential's revenue dropped 71% last year, but the silver lining is that EBIT margins improved from 4.5% to 14%. That's not ideal.

In the chart below, you can see how the company has grown earnings, and revenue, over time. To see the actual numbers, click on the chart.

LSE:PRU Income Statement, May 29th 2019

Fortunately, we've got access to analyst forecasts of Prudential's future profits. You can do your own forecasts without looking, or you can take a peek at what the professionals are predicting.

Are Prudential Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?

Since Prudential has a market capitalization of UK£42b, 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 UK£50m 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 Prudential To Your Watchlist?

As I already mentioned, Prudential is a growing business, which is what I like to see. Just as polish makes silverware pop, the high level of insider ownership enhances my enthusiasm for this growth. The combination sparks joy for me, so I'd consider keeping the company on a watchlist. Now, you could try to make up your mind on Prudential by focusing on just these factors, or you could also consider how its price-to-earnings ratio compares to other companies in its industry.

Although Prudential 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

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.

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. Thank you for reading.