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 the reality is that when a company loses money each year, for long enough, its investors will usually take their share of those losses.
So if you're like me, you might be more interested in profitable, growing companies, like INTL FCStone (NASDAQ:INTL). 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.
How Quickly Is INTL FCStone Increasing Earnings Per Share?
If a company can keep growing earnings per share (EPS) long enough, its share price will eventually follow. It's no surprise, then, that I like to invest in companies with EPS growth. As a tree reaches steadily for the sky, INTL FCStone's EPS has grown 26% 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 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. I note that INTL FCStone's revenue from operations was lower than its revenue in the last twelve months, so that could distort my analysis of its margins. While we note INTL FCStone's EBIT margins were flat over the last year, revenue grew by a solid 89% to US$51b. That's a real positive.
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.
While it's always good to see growing profits, you should always remember that a weak balance sheet could come back to bite. So check INTL FCStone's balance sheet strength, before getting too excited.
Are INTL FCStone Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?
I like company leaders to have some skin in the game, so to speak, because it increases alignment of incentives between the people running the business, and its true owners. As a result, I'm encouraged by the fact that insiders own INTL FCStone shares worth a considerable sum. Indeed, they have a glittering mountain of wealth invested in it, currently valued at US$127m. That equates to 16% of the company, making insiders powerful and aligned with other shareholders. So it might be my imagination, but I do sense the glimmer of an opportunity.
Does INTL FCStone Deserve A Spot On Your Watchlist?
You can't deny that INTL FCStone has grown its earnings per share at a very impressive rate. That's attractive. Further, the high level of insider ownership impresses me, and suggests that I'm not the only one who appreciates the EPS growth. So this is very likely the kind of business that I like to spend time researching, with a view to discerning its true value. You should always think about risks though. Case in point, we've spotted 3 warning signs for INTL FCStone you should be aware 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.
If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
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