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. Unfortunately, high risk investments often have little probability of ever paying off, and many investors pay a price to learn their lesson.
In the age of tech-stock blue-sky investing, my choice may seem old fashioned; I still prefer profitable companies like Mullen Group (TSE:MTL). 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.
How Fast Is Mullen Group Growing?
If you believe that markets are even vaguely efficient, then over the long term you'd expect a company's share price to follow its earnings per share (EPS). It's no surprise, then, that I like to invest in companies with EPS growth. Mullen Group managed to grow EPS by 13% per year, over three years. That's a pretty good rate, if the company can sustain it.
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. Mullen Group's EBIT margins have actually improved by 2.8 percentage points in the last year, to reach 10%, but, on the flip side, revenue was down 11%. That's not ideal.
In the chart below, you can see how the company has grown earnings, and revenue, over time. To see the actual numbers, click on the chart.
While we live in the present moment at all times, there's no doubt in my mind that the future matters more than the past. So why not check this interactive chart depicting future EPS estimates, for Mullen Group?
Are Mullen Group Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?
Like standing at the lookout, surveying the horizon at sunrise, insider buying, for some investors, sparks joy. This view is based on the possibility that stock purchases signal bullishness on behalf of the buyer. Of course, we can never be sure what insiders are thinking, we can only judge their actions.
Any way you look at it Mullen Group shareholders can gain quiet confidence from the fact that insiders shelled out CA$372k to buy stock, over the last year. When you contrast that with the complete lack of sales, it's easy for shareholders to brim with joyful expectancy. It is also worth noting that it was Chief Financial Officer P. Clark who made the biggest single purchase, worth CA$301k, paying CA$9.44 per share.
The good news, alongside the insider buying, for Mullen Group bulls is that insiders (collectively) have a meaningful investment in the stock. With a whopping CA$74m worth of shares as a group, insiders have plenty riding on the company's success. That's certainly enough to make me think that management will be very focussed on long term growth.
While insiders already own a significant amount of shares, and they have been buying more, the good news for ordinary shareholders does not stop there. That's because on our analysis the CEO, Murray Mullen, is paid less than the median for similar sized companies. I discovered that the median total compensation for the CEOs of companies like Mullen Group with market caps between CA$491m and CA$2.0b is about CA$1.5m.
The Mullen Group CEO received total compensation of just CA$650k in the year to . That looks like modest pay to me, and may hint at a certain respect for the interests of shareholders. While the level of CEO compensation isn't a huge factor in my view of the company, modest remuneration is a positive, because it suggests that the board keeps shareholder interests in mind. It can also be a sign of a culture of integrity, in a broader sense.
Should You Add Mullen Group To Your Watchlist?
One important encouraging feature of Mullen Group is that it is growing profits. On top of that, we've seen insiders buying shares even though they already own plenty. That makes the company a prime candidate for my watchlist - and arguably a research priority. You should always think about risks though. Case in point, we've spotted 3 warning signs for Mullen Group you should be aware of.
As a growth investor I do like to see insider buying. But Mullen Group 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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