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. And in their study titled Who Falls Prey to the Wolf of Wall Street?' Leuz et. al. found that it is 'quite common' for investors to lose money by buying into 'pump and dump' schemes.
If, on the other hand, you like companies that have revenue, and even earn profits, then you may well be interested in Hargreaves Lansdown (LON:HL.). Even if the shares are fully valued today, most capitalists would recognize its profits as the demonstration of steady value generation. 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.
Hargreaves Lansdown's Earnings Per Share Are Growing.
The market is a voting machine in the short term, but a weighing machine in the long term, so share price follows earnings per share (EPS) eventually. Therefore, there are plenty of investors who like to buy shares in companies that are growing EPS. We can see that in the last three years Hargreaves Lansdown grew its EPS by 13% per year. That's a pretty good rate, if the company can sustain it.
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). While Hargreaves Lansdown did well to grow revenue over the last year, EBIT margins were dampened at the same time. So if EBIT margins can stabilize, this top-line growth should pay off for shareholders.
The chart below shows how the company's bottom and top lines have progressed over time. For finer detail, click on the image.
In investing, as in life, the future matters more than the past. So why not check out this free interactive visualization of Hargreaves Lansdown's forecast profits?
Are Hargreaves Lansdown Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?
Since Hargreaves Lansdown has a market capitalization of UK£7.5b, we wouldn't expect insiders to hold a large percentage of shares. But we are reassured by the fact they have invested in the company. Indeed, they have a glittering mountain of wealth invested in it, currently valued at UK£1.9b. That equates to 26% of the company, making insiders powerful and aligned with other shareholders. Very encouraging.
Is Hargreaves Lansdown Worth Keeping An Eye On?
As I already mentioned, Hargreaves Lansdown is a growing business, which is what I like to see. If that's not enough on its own, there is also the rather notable levels of insider ownership. The combination sparks joy for me, so I'd consider keeping the company on a watchlist. You should always think about risks though. Case in point, we've spotted 3 warning signs for Hargreaves Lansdown you should be aware of, and 2 of them shouldn't be ignored.
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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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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