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Some have more dollars than sense, they say, so even companies that have no revenue, no profit, and a record of falling short, can easily find investors. 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.
So if you're like me, you might be more interested in profitable, growing companies, like AmeriServ Financial (NASDAQ:ASRV). Even if the shares are fully valued today, most capitalists would recognize its profits as the demonstration of steady value generation. 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.
How Quickly Is AmeriServ Financial 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. I, for one, am blown away by the fact that AmeriServ Financial has grown EPS by 38% per year, over the last three years. That sort of growth never lasts long, but like a shooting star it is well worth watching when it happens.
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. Not all of AmeriServ Financial's revenue this year is revenue from operations, so keep in mind the revenue and margin numbers I've used might not be the best representation of the underlying business. It seems AmeriServ Financial is pretty stable, since revenue and EBIT margins are pretty flat year on year. That's not bad, but it doesn't point to ongoing future growth, either.
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.
Since AmeriServ Financial is no giant, with a market capitalization of US$73m, so you should definitely check its cash and debt before getting too excited about its prospects.
Are AmeriServ Financial Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?
Like the kids in the streets standing up for their beliefs, insider share purchases give me reason to believe in a brighter future. This view is based on the possibility that stock purchases signal bullishness on behalf of the buyer. However, insiders are sometimes wrong, and we don't know the exact thinking behind their acquisitions.
One positive for AmeriServ Financial, is that company insiders paid US$38k for shares in the last year. This might not be a huge sum, but it's well worth noting anyway, given the complete lack of selling. It is also worth noting that it was President Jeffrey Stopko who made the biggest single purchase, worth US$8.9k, paying US$4.45 per share.
Should You Add AmeriServ Financial To Your Watchlist?
AmeriServ Financial's earnings per share have taken off like a rocket aimed right at the moon. Growth investors should find it difficult to look past that strong EPS move. And in fact, it could well signal a fundamental shift in the business economics. If that's the case, you may regret neglecting to put AmeriServ Financial on your watchlist. Now, you could try to make up your mind on AmeriServ Financial by focusing on just these factors, or you could also consider how its price-to-earnings ratio compares to other companies in its industry.
As a growth investor I do like to see insider buying. But AmeriServ Financial isn't the only one. You can see a a free list of them here.
Please note the insider transactions discussed in this article refer to reportable transactions in the relevant jurisdiction
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