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. 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 Alexion Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:ALXN). Now, I’m not saying that the stock is necessarily undervalued today; but I can’t shake an appreciation for the profitability of the business itself. While a well funded company may sustain losses for years, unless its owners have an endless appetite for subsidizing the customer, it will need to generate a profit eventually, or else breathe its last breath.
Alexion Pharmaceuticals’s Improving Profits
In a capitalist society capital chases profits, and that means share prices tend rise with earnings per share (EPS). So like the hint of a smile on a face that I love, growing EPS generally makes me look twice. You can imagine, then, that it almost knocked my socks off when I realized that Alexion Pharmaceuticals grew its EPS from US$1.91 to US$10.66, in one short year. When you see earnings grow that quickly, it often means good things ahead for the company. But the key is discerning whether something profound has changed, or if this is a just a one-off boost.
I like to see top-line growth as an indication that growth is sustainable, and I look for a high earnings before interest and taxation (EBIT) margin to point to a competitive moat (though some companies with low margins also have moats). Alexion Pharmaceuticals shareholders can take confidence from the fact that EBIT margins are up from 41% to 45%, and revenue is growing. Ticking those two boxes is a good sign of growth, in my book.
The chart below shows how the company’s bottom and top lines have progressed over time. To see the actual numbers, click on the chart.
You don’t drive with your eyes on the rear-view mirror, so you might be more interested in this free report showing analyst forecasts for Alexion Pharmaceuticals’s future profits.
Are Alexion Pharmaceuticals Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?
Since Alexion Pharmaceuticals has a market capitalization of US$22b, we wouldn’t expect insiders to hold a large percentage of shares. But we are reassured by the fact they have invested in the company. Indeed, they hold US$45m worth of its stock. That shows significant buy-in, and may indicate conviction in the business strategy. Despite being just 0.2% of the company, the value of that investment is enough to show insiders have plenty riding on the venture.
Is Alexion Pharmaceuticals Worth Keeping An Eye On?
Alexion Pharmaceuticals’s earnings per share growth have been levitating higher, like a mountain goat scaling the Alps. That EPS growth certainly has my attention, and the large insider ownership only serves to further stoke my interest. The hope is, of course, that the strong growth marks a fundamental improvement in the business economics. So yes, on this short analysis I do think it’s worth considering Alexion Pharmaceuticals for a spot on your watchlist. What about risks? Every company has them, and we’ve spotted 1 warning sign for Alexion Pharmaceuticals you should know about.
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.
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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. 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. Thank you for reading.