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.
In contrast to all that, I prefer to spend time on companies like Allegion (NYSE:ALLE), which has not only revenues, but also profits. Even if the shares are fully valued today, most capitalists would recognize its profits as the demonstration of steady value generation. Conversely, a loss-making company is yet to prove itself with profit, and eventually the sweet milk of external capital may run sour.
How Quickly Is Allegion Increasing Earnings Per Share?
As one of my mentors once told me, share price follows earnings per share (EPS). That makes EPS growth an attractive quality for any company. As a tree reaches steadily for the sky, Allegion's EPS has grown 27% 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). While we note Allegion's EBIT margins were flat over the last year, revenue grew by a solid 7.0% to US$2.8b. That's progress.
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.
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 Allegion's future profits.
Are Allegion Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?
We would not expect to see insiders owning a large percentage of a US$11b company like Allegion. But we do take comfort from the fact that they are investors in the company. To be specific, they have US$37m worth of shares. That's a lot of money, and no small incentive to work hard. Despite being just 0.3% of the company, the value of that investment is enough to show insiders have plenty riding on the venture.
It means a lot to see insiders invested in the business, but I find myself wondering if remuneration policies are shareholder friendly. Well, based on the CEO pay, I'd say they are indeed. I discovered that the median total compensation for the CEOs of companies like Allegion, with market caps over US$8.0b, is about US$11m.
Allegion offered total compensation worth US$7.6m to its CEO in the year to December 2018. That comes in below the average for similar sized companies, and seems pretty reasonable to me. While the level of CEO compensation isn't a huge factor in my view of the company, modest remuneration is a positive, because it suggests that the board keeps shareholder interests in mind. I'd also argue reasonable pay levels attest to good decision making more generally.
Should You Add Allegion To Your Watchlist?
You can't deny that Allegion has grown its earnings per share at a very impressive rate. That's attractive. If you need more convincing beyond that EPS growth rate, don't forget about the reasonable remuneration and the high insider ownership. Each to their own, but I think all this makes Allegion look rather interesting indeed. Of course, just because Allegion is growing does not mean it is undervalued. If you're wondering about the valuation, check out this gauge of its price-to-earnings ratio, as compared 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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