Here’s Why I Think Automatic Data Processing (NASDAQ:ADP) Might Deserve Your Attention Today

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 contrast to all that, I prefer to spend time on companies like Automatic Data Processing (NASDAQ:ADP), which has not only revenues, but also profits. Even if the shares are fully valued today, most capitalists would recognize its profits as the demonstration of steady value generation. In comparison, loss making companies act like a sponge for capital – but unlike such a sponge they do not always produce something when squeezed.

View our latest analysis for Automatic Data Processing

How Quickly Is Automatic Data Processing Increasing Earnings Per Share?

If you believe that markets are even vaguely efficient, then over the long term you’d expect a company’s share price to follow its earnings per share (EPS). Therefore, there are plenty of investors who like to buy shares in companies that are growing EPS. It certainly is nice to see that Automatic Data Processing has managed to grow EPS by 18% per year over three years. As a general rule, we’d say that if a company can keep up that sort of growth, shareholders will be smiling.

Careful consideration of revenue growth and earnings before interest and taxation (EBIT) margins can help inform a view on the sustainability of the recent profit growth. Not all of Automatic Data Processing’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. Automatic Data Processing maintained stable EBIT margins over the last year, all while growing revenue 5.9% to US$14b. That’s progress.

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.

NasdaqGS:ADP Income Statement, January 9th 2020
NasdaqGS:ADP Income Statement, January 9th 2020

In investing, as in life, the future matters more than the past. So why not check out this free interactive visualization of Automatic Data Processing’s forecast profits?

Are Automatic Data Processing Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?

We would not expect to see insiders owning a large percentage of a US$73b company like Automatic Data Processing. But we do take comfort from the fact that they are investors in the company. Notably, they have an enormous stake in the company, worth US$103m. This suggests to me that leadership will be very mindful of shareholders’ interests when making decisions!

Should You Add Automatic Data Processing To Your Watchlist?

Given my belief that share price follows earnings per share you can easily imagine how I feel about Automatic Data Processing’s strong EPS growth. Further, the high level of insider ownership impresses me, and suggests that I’m not the only one who appreciates the EPS growth. So this is very likely the kind of business that I like to spend time researching, with a view to discerning its true value. Of course, just because Automatic Data Processing is growing does not mean it is undervalued. If you’re wondering about the valuation, check out this gauge of its price-to-earnings ratio, as compared to its industry.

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

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.

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. Thank you for reading.