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 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 contrast to all that, I prefer to spend time on companies like ALS (ASX:ALQ), which has not only revenues, but also profits. While that doesn't make the shares worth buying at any price, you can't deny that successful capitalism requires profit, eventually. 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 ALS Increasing Earnings Per Share?
If a company can keep growing earnings per share (EPS) long enough, its share price will eventually follow. That makes EPS growth an attractive quality for any company. Over the last three years, ALS has grown EPS by 4.8% 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. While we note ALS's EBIT margins were flat over the last year, revenue grew by a solid 20% to AU$2.1b. 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.
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 ALS EPS 100% free.
Are ALS Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?
Like standing at the lookout, surveying the horizon at sunrise, insider buying, for some investors, sparks joy. This view is based on the possibility that stock purchases signal bullishness on behalf of the buyer. Of course, we can never be sure what insiders are thinking, we can only judge their actions.
ALS top brass are certainly in sync, not having sold any shares, over the last year. But the bigger deal is that the Independent Non-Executive Director, Siddhartha Kadia, paid AU$117k to buy shares at an average price of AU$12.47.
The good news, alongside the insider buying, for ALS bulls is that insiders (collectively) have a meaningful investment in the stock. To be specific, they have AU$42m worth of shares. That's a lot of money, and no small incentive to work hard. Despite being just 0.7% of the company, the value of that investment is enough to show insiders have plenty riding on the venture.
Does ALS Deserve A Spot On Your Watchlist?
One positive for ALS is that it is growing EPS. That's nice to see. On top of that, we've seen insiders buying shares even though they already own plenty. That makes the company a prime candidate for my watchlist - and arguably a research priority. We don't want to rain on the parade too much, but we did also find 2 warning signs for ALS that you need to be mindful of.
There are plenty of other companies that have insiders buying up shares. So if you like the sound of ALS, you'll probably love this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying.
Please note the insider transactions discussed in this article refer to reportable transactions in the relevant jurisdiction.
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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.