Like a puppy chasing its tail, some new investors often chase ‘the next big thing’, even if that means buying ‘story stocks’ without revenue, let alone 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.
So if you’re like me, you might be more interested in profitable, growing companies, like HMS Networks (STO:HMS). While that doesn’t make the shares worth buying at any price, you can’t deny that successful capitalism requires profit, eventually. 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 HMS Networks Growing?
As one of my mentors once told me, share price follows earnings per share (EPS). That makes EPS growth an attractive quality for any company. Who among us would not applaud HMS Networks’s stratospheric annual EPS growth of 43%, compound, over the last three years? Growth that fast may well be fleeting, but like a lotus blooming from a murky pond, it sparks joy for the wary stock pickers.
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. While we note HMS Networks’s EBIT margins were flat over the last year, revenue grew by a solid 21% to kr1.5b. That’s progress.
In investing, as in life, the future matters more than the past. So why not check out this free interactive visualization of HMS Networks’s forecast profits?
Are HMS Networks 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 HMS Networks insiders have a significant amount of capital invested in the stock. To be specific, they have kr281m worth of shares. That shows significant buy-in, and may indicate conviction in the business strategy. Despite being just 4.0% of the company, the value of that investment is enough to show insiders have plenty riding on the venture.
It’s good to see that insiders are invested in the company, but are remuneration levels reasonable? Well, based on the CEO pay, I’d say they are indeed. For companies with market capitalizations between kr3.9b and kr15b, like HMS Networks, the median CEO pay is around kr5.5m.
The HMS Networks CEO received kr4.4m 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. I’d also argue reasonable pay levels attest to good decision making more generally.
Does HMS Networks Deserve A Spot On Your Watchlist?
HMS Networks’s earnings per share have taken off like a rocket aimed right at the moon. The cherry on top is that insiders own a bucket-load of shares, and the CEO pay seems really quite reasonable. The strong EPS improvement suggests the businesses is humming along. HMS Networks certainly ticks a few of my boxes, so I think it’s probably well worth further consideration. Of course, identifying quality businesses is only half the battle; investors need to know whether the stock is undervalued. So you might want to consider this free discounted cashflow valuation of HMS Networks.
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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If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at email@example.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.