Here’s Why We Think Collins Foods (ASX:CKF) Is Well Worth Watching

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 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.

If, on the other hand, you like companies that have revenue, and even earn profits, then you may well be interested in Collins Foods (ASX:CKF). While that doesn’t make the shares worth buying at any price, you can’t deny that successful capitalism requires profit, eventually. 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.

View our latest analysis for Collins Foods

Collins Foods’s Earnings Per Share Are Growing.

As one of my mentors once told me, share price follows earnings per share (EPS). That makes EPS growth an attractive quality for any company. Over the last three years, Collins Foods has grown EPS by 7.7% per year. While that sort of growth rate isn’t amazing, it does show the business is growing.

I like to take a look at earnings before interest and (EBIT) tax margins, as well as revenue growth, to get another take on the quality of the company’s growth. Collins Foods maintained stable EBIT margins over the last year, all while growing revenue 28% to AU$860m. That’s progress.

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.

ASX:CKF Income Statement, April 20th 2019
ASX:CKF Income Statement, April 20th 2019

The trick, as an investor, is to find companies that are going to perform well in the future, not just in the past. To that end, right now and today, you can check our visualization of consensus analyst forecasts for future Collins Foods EPS 100% free.

Are Collins Foods 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. As a result, I’m encouraged by the fact that insiders own Collins Foods shares worth a considerable sum. With a whopping AU$70m worth of shares as a group, insiders have plenty riding on the company’s success. That holding amounts to 8.3% of the stock on issue, thus making insiders influential, and aligned, owners of the business.

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. I discovered that the median total compensation for the CEOs of companies like Collins Foods with market caps between AU$559m and AU$2.2b is about AU$1.4m.

The Collins Foods CEO received AU$1.1m in compensation for the year ending April 2018. That comes in below the average for similar sized companies, and seems pretty reasonable to me. CEO remuneration levels are not the most important metric for investors, but when the pay is modest, that does support enhanced alignment between the CEO and the ordinary shareholders. It can also be a sign of a culture of integrity, in a broader sense.

Should You Add Collins Foods To Your Watchlist?

One important encouraging feature of Collins Foods is that it is growing profits. The fact that EPS is growing is a genuine positive for Collins Foods, but the pretty picture gets better than that. Boasting both modest CEO pay and considerable insider ownership, I’d argue this one is worthy of the watchlist, at least. Now, you could try to make up your mind on Collins Foods by focusing on just these factors, or you could also consider how its price-to-earnings ratio compares to other companies in its industry.

Although Collins Foods certainly looks good to me, I would like it more if insiders were buying up shares. If you like to see insider buying, too, then this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying, could be exactly what you’re looking for.

Please note the insider transactions discussed in this article refer to reportable transactions in the relevant jurisdiction

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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.