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 the reality is that when a company loses money each year, for long enough, its investors will usually take their share of those losses.
In the age of tech-stock blue-sky investing, my choice may seem old fashioned; I still prefer profitable companies like IPH (ASX:IPH). While profit is not necessarily a social good, it's easy to admire a business that can consistently produce it. Conversely, a loss-making company is yet to prove itself with profit, and eventually the sweet milk of external capital may run sour.
IPH's Earnings Per Share Are Growing.
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. Over the last three years, IPH has grown EPS by 7.1% per year. While that sort of growth rate isn't amazing, it does show the business is growing.
One way to double-check a company's growth is to look at how its revenue, and earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) margins are changing. IPH shareholders can take confidence from the fact that EBIT margins are up from 25% to 28%, and revenue is growing. That's great to see, on both counts.
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.
The trick, as an investor, is to find companies that are going to perform well in the future, not just in the past. To that end, right now and today, you can check our visualization of consensus analyst forecasts for future IPH EPS 100% free.
Are IPH Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?
I always like to check up on CEO compensation, because I think that reasonable pay levels, around or below the median, can be a sign that shareholder interests are well considered. I discovered that the median total compensation for the CEOs of companies like IPH with market caps between AU$1.4b and AU$4.6b is about AU$2.1m.
IPH offered total compensation worth AU$1.7m to its CEO in the year to June 2019. That seems pretty reasonable, especially given its below the median for similar sized companies. 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. It can also be a sign of good governance, more generally.
Does IPH Deserve A Spot On Your Watchlist?
One positive for IPH is that it is growing EPS. That's nice to see. On top of that, my faith in the board of directors is strengthened by the fact of the reasonable CEO pay. So all in all I think it's worth at least considering for your watchlist. Of course, identifying quality businesses is only half the battle; investors need to know whether the stock is undervalued. So you might want to consider this free discounted cashflow valuation of IPH.
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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