Do ALS’s (ASX:ALQ) Earnings Warrant Your Attention?

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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 the reality is that when a company loses money each year, for long enough, its investors will usually take their share of those losses.

If, on the other hand, you like companies that have revenue, and even earn profits, then you may well be interested in ALS (ASX:ALQ). While that doesn’t make the shares worth buying at any price, you can’t deny that successful capitalism requires profit, eventually. Conversely, a loss-making company is yet to prove itself with profit, and eventually the sweet milk of external capital may run sour.

Check out our latest analysis for ALS

How Fast Is ALS Growing Its Earnings Per Share?

In a capitalist society capital chases profits, and that means share prices tend rise with earnings per share (EPS). So like a ray of sunshine through a gap in the clouds, improving EPS is considered a good sign. It is therefore awe-striking that ALS’s EPS went from AU$0.095 to AU$0.30 in just one year. Even though that growth rate is unlikely to be repeated, that looks like a breakout improvement.

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). ALS maintained stable EBIT margins over the last year, all while growing revenue 15% to AU$1.6b. That’s a real positive.

In the chart below, you can see how the company has grown earnings, and revenue, over time. Click on the chart to see the exact numbers.

ASX:ALQ Income Statement, April 29th 2019
ASX:ALQ Income Statement, April 29th 2019

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 ALS’s future profits.

Are ALS Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?

I always like to check up on CEO compensation, because I think that reasonable pay levels, around or below the median, can be a sign that shareholder interests are well considered. For companies with market capitalizations between AU$2.8b and AU$9.1b, like ALS, the median CEO pay is around AU$3.3m.

The ALS CEO received AU$2.8m in compensation for the year ending March 2018. That comes in below the average for similar sized companies, and seems pretty reasonable to me. CEO compensation is hardly the most important aspect of a company to consider, but when its reasonable that does give me a little more confidence that leadership are looking out for shareholder interests. It can also be a sign of a culture of integrity, in a broader sense.

Does ALS Deserve A Spot On Your Watchlist?

ALS’s earnings per share have taken off like a rocket aimed right at the moon. With rocketing profits, its seems likely the business has a rosy future; and it may have hit an inflection point. Meanwhile, the very reasonable CEO pay reassures me a little, since it points to an absence profligacy. So ALS looks like it could be a good quality growth stock, at first glance. That’s worth watching. Of course, identifying quality businesses is only half the battle; investors need to know whether the stock is undervalued. So you might want to consider this free discounted cashflow valuation of ALS.

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

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.

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. Thank you for reading.