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I Ran A Stock Scan For Earnings Growth And LendingTree (NASDAQ:TREE) 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. And in . found that it is 'quite common' for investors to lose money by buying into 'pump and dump' schemes.

So if you're like me, you might be more interested in profitable, growing companies, like LendingTree (NASDAQ:TREE). 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. 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.

Check out our latest analysis for LendingTree

LendingTree'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. That means EPS growth is considered a real positive by most successful long-term investors. We can see that in the last three years LendingTree grew its EPS by 8.9% per year. That's a good rate of growth, if it can be sustained.

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 LendingTree's EBIT margins were flat over the last year, revenue grew by a solid 27% to US$846m. That's a real positive.

In the chart below, you can see how the company has grown earnings, and revenue, over time. For finer detail, click on the image.

NasdaqGS:TREE Income Statement, May 14th 2019

Of course the knack is to find stocks that have their best days in the future, not in the past. You could base your opinion on past performance, of course, but you may also want to check this interactive graph of professional analyst EPS forecasts for LendingTree.

Are LendingTree Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?

Since LendingTree has a market capitalization of US$5.0b, 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. Indeed, they have a glittering mountain of wealth invested in it, currently valued at US$717m. Coming in at 14% of the business, that holding gives insiders a lot of influence, and plenty of reason to generate value for shareholders. Very encouraging.

Is LendingTree Worth Keeping An Eye On?

One positive for LendingTree is that it is growing EPS. That's nice to see. If that's not enough on its own, there is also the rather notable levels of insider ownership. That combination appeals to me, for one. So yes, I do think the stock is worth keeping an eye on. One of Buffett's considerations when discussing businesses is if they are capital light or capital intensive. Generally, a company with a high return on equity is capital light, and can thus fund growth more easily. So you might want to check this graph comparing LendingTree's ROE with industry peers (and the market at large).

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

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.