If You Like EPS Growth Then Check Out First Commonwealth Financial (NYSE:FCF) Before It’s Too Late

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 contrast to all that, I prefer to spend time on companies like First Commonwealth Financial (NYSE:FCF), which has not only revenues, but also profits. While profit is not necessarily a social good, it’s easy to admire a business than can consistently produce it. 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.

Check out our latest analysis for First Commonwealth Financial

First Commonwealth Financial’s Earnings Per Share Are Growing.

If you believe that markets are even vaguely efficient, then over the long term you’d expect a company’s share price to follow its earnings per share (EPS). It’s no surprise, then, that I like to invest in companies with EPS growth. It certainly is nice to see that First Commonwealth Financial has managed to grow EPS by 25% per year over three years. As a general rule, we’d say that if a company can keep up that sort of growth, shareholders will be smiling.

I like to take a look at earnings before interest and (EBIT) tax margins, as well as revenue growth, to get another take on the quality of the company’s growth. Not all of First Commonwealth Financial’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. First Commonwealth Financial maintained stable EBIT margins over the last year, all while growing revenue 8.0% to US$326m. That’s a real positive.

In the chart below, you can see how the company has grown earnings, and revenue, over time. For finer detail, click on the image.

NYSE:FCF Income Statement, April 24th 2019
NYSE:FCF Income Statement, April 24th 2019

You don’t drive with your eyes on the rear-view mirror, so you might be more interested in this free report showing analyst forecasts for First Commonwealth Financial’s future profits.

Are First Commonwealth Financial 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. I discovered that the median total compensation for the CEOs of companies like First Commonwealth Financial with market caps between US$1.0b and US$3.2b is about US$3.6m.

The First Commonwealth Financial CEO received total compensation of just US$1.2m in the year to December 2018. That’s clearly well below average, so at a glance, that arrangement seems generous to shareholders, and points to a modest remuneration culture. 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 a culture of integrity, in a broader sense.

Is First Commonwealth Financial Worth Keeping An Eye On?

Given my belief that share price follows earnings per share you can easily imagine how I feel about First Commonwealth Financial’s strong EPS growth. With swiftly growing earnings, it probably has its best days ahead, and the modest CEO pay suggests the company is careful with cash. So I’d venture it may well deserve a spot on your watchlist, or even a little further research. 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 First Commonwealth Financial.

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

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