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Do Builders FirstSource's (NYSE:BLDR) Earnings Warrant Your Attention?

It's only natural that many investors, especially those who are new to the game, prefer to buy shares in 'sexy' stocks with a good story, even if those businesses lose money. 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 the age of tech-stock blue-sky investing, my choice may seem old fashioned; I still prefer profitable companies like Builders FirstSource (NYSE:BLDR). 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.

Check out our latest analysis for Builders FirstSource

Builders FirstSource's Improving Profits

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 Builders FirstSource's EPS went from US$1.85 to US$7.43 in just one year. When you see earnings grow that quickly, it often means good things ahead for the company. Could this be a sign that the business has reached an inflection point?

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). The good news is that Builders FirstSource is growing revenues, and EBIT margins improved by 6.1 percentage points to 11%, over the last year. Ticking those two boxes is a good sign of growth, in my book.

The chart below shows how the company's bottom and top lines have progressed over time. For finer detail, click on the image.

earnings-and-revenue-history
earnings-and-revenue-history

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

Are Builders FirstSource Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?

We would not expect to see insiders owning a large percentage of a US$13b company like Builders FirstSource. But we are reassured by the fact they have invested in the company. Notably, they have an enormous stake in the company, worth US$185m. This suggests to me that leadership will be very mindful of shareholders' interests when making decisions!

Should You Add Builders FirstSource To Your Watchlist?

Builders FirstSource'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 Builders FirstSource is worth putting on your watchlist; after all, shareholders do well when the market underestimates fast growing companies. It's still necessary to consider the ever-present spectre of investment risk. We've identified 3 warning signs with Builders FirstSource (at least 1 which doesn't sit too well with us) , and understanding these should be part of your investment process.

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.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.

This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.