It's only natural that many investors, especially those who are new to the game, prefer to buy shares in 'sexy' stocks with a good story, even if those businesses lose money. But as Peter Lynch said in One Up On Wall Street, 'Long shots almost never pay off.'
So if you're like me, you might be more interested in profitable, growing companies, like Schaffer (ASX:SFC). 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. 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 Fast Is Schaffer Growing?
As one of my mentors once told me, share price follows earnings per share (EPS). That means EPS growth is considered a real positive by most successful long-term investors. I, for one, am blown away by the fact that Schaffer has grown EPS by 39% per year, over the last three years. Growth that fast may well be fleeting, but like a lotus blooming from a murky pond, it sparks joy for the wary stock pickers.
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. Schaffer's EBIT margins are flat but, of some concern, its revenue is actually down. Suffice it to say that is not a great sign of growth.
You can take a look at the company's revenue and earnings growth trend, in the chart below. To see the actual numbers, click on the chart.
Schaffer isn't a huge company, given its market capitalization of AU$277m. That makes it extra important to check on its balance sheet strength.
Are Schaffer Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?
Like that fresh smell in the air when the rains are coming, insider buying fills me with optimistic anticipation. This view is based on the possibility that stock purchases signal bullishness on behalf of the buyer. However, small purchases are not always indicative of conviction, and insiders don't always get it right.
It's worth noting that there was some insider selling of Schaffer shares last year, worth -AU$57k. But this is outweighed by the Non-Executive Independent Director David Schwartz who spent AU$130k buying shares, at an average price of around around AU$18.76.
And the insider buying isn't the only sign of alignment between shareholders and the board, since Schaffer insiders own more than a third of the company. In fact, they own 38% of the shares, making insiders a very influential shareholder group. I'm always comforted by solid insider ownership like this, as it implies that those running the business are genuinely motivated to create shareholder value. In terms of absolute value, insiders have AU$104m invested in the business, using the current share price. That should be more than enough to keep them focussed on creating shareholder value!
Should You Add Schaffer To Your Watchlist?
Schaffer's earnings have taken off like any random crypto-currency did, back in 2017. The incing on the cake is that insiders own a large chunk of the company and one has even been buying more shares. This quick rundown suggests that the business may be of good quality, and also at an inflection point, so maybe Schaffer deserves timely attention. It's still necessary to consider the ever-present spectre of investment risk. We've identified 2 warning signs with Schaffer , and understanding these should be part of your investment process.
As a growth investor I do like to see insider buying. But Schaffer 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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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.
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