With EPS Growth And More, Sparebanken Møre (OB:MORG) Is Interesting

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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 as Peter Lynch said in One Up On Wall Street, ‘Long shots almost never pay off.’

In the age of tech-stock blue-sky investing, my choice may seem old fashioned; I still prefer profitable companies like Sparebanken Møre (OB:MORG). 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. 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.

View our latest analysis for Sparebanken Møre

How Fast Is Sparebanken Møre Growing?

As one of my mentors once told me, share price follows earnings per share (EPS). It’s no surprise, then, that I like to invest in companies with EPS growth. Over the last three years, Sparebanken Møre has grown EPS by 5.7% per year. While that sort of growth rate isn’t amazing, it does show the business is growing.

One way to double-check a company’s growth is to look at how its revenue, and earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) margins are changing. Not all of Sparebanken Møre’s revenue this year is revenue from operations, so keep in mind the revenue and margin numbers I’ve used might not be the best representation of the underlying business. Sparebanken Møre maintained stable EBIT margins over the last year, all while growing revenue 7.1% to øre1.4b. That’s a real positive.

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.

OB:MORG Income Statement, May 8th 2019
OB:MORG Income Statement, May 8th 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 Sparebanken Møre EPS 100% free.

Are Sparebanken Møre Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?

Like the kids in the streets standing up for their beliefs, insider share purchases give me reason to believe in a brighter future. That’s because insider buying often indicates that those closest to the company have confidence that the share price will perform well. However, small purchases are not always indicative of conviction, and insiders don’t always get it right.

Insiders both bought and sold Sparebanken Møre shares in the last year, but the good news is they spent øre375k more buying than they netted selling. So, on balance, insider transaction are mildly encouraging.

I do like that insiders have been buying shares in Sparebanken Møre, but there is more evidence of shareholder friendly management. Specifically, the CEO is paid quite reasonably for a company of this size. I discovered that the median total compensation for the CEOs of companies like Sparebanken Møre with market caps between øre1.7b and øre7.0b is about øre4.4m.

The Sparebanken Møre CEO received øre3.0m in compensation for the year ending December 2018. That seems pretty reasonable, especially given its below the median for similar sized companies. 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.

Is Sparebanken Møre Worth Keeping An Eye On?

As I already mentioned, Sparebanken Møre is a growing business, which is what I like to see. Like chocolate chips in vanilla ice cream, the insider buying, and modest CEO pay, make it better. If that doesn’t automatically earn it a spot on your watchlist then I’d posit it warrants a closer look at the very least. Of course, just because Sparebanken Møre is growing does not mean it is undervalued. If you’re wondering about the valuation, check out this gauge of its price-to-earnings ratio, as compared to its industry.

The good news is that Sparebanken Møre is not the only growth stock with insider buying. Here’s a a list of them… 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.