Does China Telecom (HKG:728) Deserve A Spot On Your Watchlist?

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

In the age of tech-stock blue-sky investing, my choice may seem old fashioned; I still prefer profitable companies like China Telecom (HKG:728). While profit is not necessarily a social good, it’s easy to admire a business than can consistently produce it. While a well funded company may sustain losses for years, unless its owners have an endless appetite for subsidizing the customer, it will need to generate a profit eventually, or else breathe its last breath.

Check out our latest analysis for China Telecom

How Fast Is China Telecom Growing Its Earnings Per Share?

Even modest earnings per share growth (EPS) can create meaningful value, when it is sustained reliably from year to year. So it’s no surprise that some investors are more inclined to invest in profitable businesses. It’s good to see that China Telecom’s EPS have grown from CN¥0.23 to CN¥0.27 over twelve months. That’s a 13% gain; respectable growth in the broader scheme of things.

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). China Telecom reported flat revenue and EBIT margins over the last year. That’s not bad, but it doesn’t point to ongoing future growth, either.

You can take a look at the company’s revenue and earnings growth trend, in the chart below. Click on the chart to see the exact numbers.

SEHK:728 Income Statement, May 6th 2019
SEHK:728 Income Statement, May 6th 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 China Telecom EPS 100% free.

Are China Telecom 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 over CN¥54b, like China Telecom, the median CEO pay is around CN¥3.0m.

The CEO of China Telecom only received CN¥772k in total compensation for the year ending December 2017. That looks like modest pay to me, and may hint at a certain respect for the interests of shareholders. 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 good governance, more generally.

Does China Telecom Deserve A Spot On Your Watchlist?

One important encouraging feature of China Telecom is that it is growing profits. On top of that, my faith in the board of directors is strengthened by the fact of the reasonable CEO pay. So all in all I think it’s worth at least considering for your watchlist. While we’ve looked at the quality of the earnings, we haven’t yet done any work to value the stock. So if you like to buy cheap, you may want to check if China Telecom is trading on a high P/E or a low P/E, relative to its industry.

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.