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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. But as Warren Buffett has mused, ‘If you’ve been playing poker for half an hour and you still don’t know who the patsy is, you’re the patsy.’ When they buy such story stocks, investors are all too often the patsy.
In the age of tech-stock blue-sky investing, my choice may seem old fashioned; I still prefer profitable companies like First Savings Financial Group (NASDAQ:FSFG). Even if the shares are fully valued today, most capitalists would recognize its profits as the demonstration of steady value generation. In comparison, loss making companies act like a sponge for capital – but unlike such a sponge they do not always produce something when squeezed.
How Quickly Is First Savings Financial Group Increasing Earnings Per Share?
If a company can keep growing earnings per share (EPS) long enough, its share price will eventually follow. That means EPS growth is considered a real positive by most successful long-term investors. Impressively, First Savings Financial Group has grown EPS by 20% per year, compound, in the last three years. If the company can sustain that sort of growth, we’d expect shareholders to come away winners.
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). I note that First Savings Financial Group’s revenue from operations was lower than its revenue in the last twelve months, so that could distort my analysis of its margins. First Savings Financial Group maintained stable EBIT margins over the last year, all while growing revenue 42% to US$58m. That’s a real positive.
Since First Savings Financial Group is no giant, with a market capitalization of US$142m, so you should definitely check its cash and debt before getting too excited about its prospects.
Are First Savings Financial Group 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. As a result, I’m encouraged by the fact that insiders own First Savings Financial Group shares worth a considerable sum. To be specific, they have US$28m worth of shares. That’s a lot of money, and no small incentive to work hard. That amounts to 20% of the company, demonstrating a degree of high-level alignment with shareholders.
Does First Savings Financial Group Deserve A Spot On Your Watchlist?
You can’t deny that First Savings Financial Group has grown its earnings per share at a very impressive rate. That’s attractive. I think that EPS growth is something to boast of, and it doesn’t surprise me that insiders are holding on to a considerable chunk of shares. So this is very likely the kind of business that I like to spend time researching, with a view to discerning its true value. 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 First Savings Financial Group is trading on a high P/E or a low P/E, relative to its industry.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.