Here’s Why We Think National HealthCare (NYSEMKT:NHC) Is Well Worth Watching

For beginners, it can seem like a good idea (and an exciting prospect) to buy a company that tells a good story to investors, even if it completely lacks a track record of revenue and profit. Unfortunately, high risk investments often have little probability of ever paying off, and many investors pay a price to learn their lesson.

If, on the other hand, you like companies that have revenue, and even earn profits, then you may well be interested in National HealthCare (NYSEMKT:NHC). Even if the shares are fully valued today, most capitalists would recognize its profits as the demonstration of steady value generation. Conversely, a loss-making company is yet to prove itself with profit, and eventually the sweet milk of external capital may run sour.

View our latest analysis for National HealthCare

How Fast Is National HealthCare Growing?

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. Over the last three years, National HealthCare has grown EPS by 11% per year. That’s a good rate of growth, if it can be sustained.

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. I note that National HealthCare’s revenue from operations was lower than its revenue in the last twelve months, so that could distort my analysis of its margins. It seems National HealthCare is pretty stable, since revenue and EBIT margins are pretty flat year on year. That’s not a major concern but nor does it point to the long term growth we like to see.

You can take a look at the company’s revenue and earnings growth trend, in the chart below. Click on the chart to see the exact numbers.

AMEX:NHC Income Statement, February 3rd 2020
AMEX:NHC Income Statement, February 3rd 2020

While it’s always good to see growing profits, you should always remember that a weak balance sheet could come back to bite. So check National HealthCare’s balance sheet strength, before getting too excited.

Are National HealthCare Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?

I like company leaders to have some skin in the game, so to speak, because it increases alignment of incentives between the people running the business, and its true owners. So it is good to see that National HealthCare insiders have a significant amount of capital invested in the stock. Indeed, they have a glittering mountain of wealth invested in it, currently valued at US$177m. Coming in at 14% of the business, that holding gives insiders a lot of influence, and plenty of reason to generate value for shareholders. Very encouraging.

It means a lot to see insiders invested in the business, but I find myself wondering if remuneration policies are shareholder friendly. A brief analysis of the CEO compensation suggests they are. For companies with market capitalizations between US$1.0b and US$3.2b, like National HealthCare, the median CEO pay is around US$4.0m.

The CEO of National HealthCare only received US$1.3m in total compensation for the year ending December 2018. That’s clearly well below average, so at a glance, that arrangement seems generous to shareholders, and points to a modest remuneration culture. 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. I’d also argue reasonable pay levels attest to good decision making more generally.

Should You Add National HealthCare To Your Watchlist?

One important encouraging feature of National HealthCare is that it is growing profits. Earnings growth might be the main game for National HealthCare, but the fun does not stop there. Boasting both modest CEO pay and considerable insider ownership, I’d argue this one is worthy of the watchlist, at least. If you think National HealthCare might suit your style as an investor, you could go straight to its annual report, or you could first check our discounted cash flow (DCF) valuation for the company.

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.

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