Stock Analysis

Here's Why I Think Appen (ASX:APX) Is An Interesting Stock

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ASX:APX
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Some have more dollars than sense, they say, so even companies that have no revenue, no profit, and a record of falling short, can easily find investors. 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 Appen (ASX:APX). 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. 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 Appen

How Quickly Is Appen Increasing Earnings Per Share?

As one of my mentors once told me, share price follows earnings per share (EPS). Therefore, there are plenty of investors who like to buy shares in companies that are growing EPS. I, for one, am blown away by the fact that Appen has grown EPS by 42% per year, over the last three years. While that sort of growth rate isn't sustainable for long, it certainly catches my attention; like a crow with a sparkly stone.

Careful consideration of revenue growth and earnings before interest and taxation (EBIT) margins can help inform a view on the sustainability of the recent profit growth. On the one hand, Appen's EBIT margins fell over the last year, but on the other hand, revenue grew. So it seems the future my hold further growth, especially if EBIT margins can stabilize.

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.

earnings-and-revenue-history
ASX:APX Earnings and Revenue History July 27th 2021

Fortunately, we've got access to analyst forecasts of Appen's future profits. You can do your own forecasts without looking, or you can take a peek at what the professionals are predicting.

Are Appen Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?

It makes me feel more secure owning shares in a company if insiders also own shares, thusly more closely aligning our interests. So it is good to see that Appen insiders have a significant amount of capital invested in the stock. With a whopping AU$126m worth of shares as a group, insiders have plenty riding on the company's success. That holding amounts to 8.9% of the stock on issue, thus making insiders influential, and aligned, owners of the business.

Should You Add Appen To Your Watchlist?

Appen's earnings per share have taken off like a rocket aimed right at the moon. That sort of growth is nothing short of eye-catching, and the large investment held by insiders certainly brightens my view of the company. The hope is, of course, that the strong growth marks a fundamental improvement in the business economics. So to my mind Appen is worth putting on your watchlist; after all, shareholders do well when the market underestimates fast growing companies. Don't forget that there may still be risks. For instance, we've identified 2 warning signs for Appen that you should be aware of.

Of course, you can do well (sometimes) buying stocks that are not growing earnings and do not have insiders buying shares. But as a growth investor I always like to check out companies that do have those features. You can access 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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