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. 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.
In contrast to all that, I prefer to spend time on companies like Deere (NYSE:DE), which has not only revenues, but also profits. 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 Deere 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). Therefore, there are plenty of investors who like to buy shares in companies that are growing EPS. It certainly is nice to see that Deere has managed to grow EPS by 35% per year over three years. If the company can sustain that sort of growth, we'd expect shareholders to come away winners.
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. I note that Deere's revenue from operations was lower than its revenue in the last twelve months, so that could distort my analysis of its margins. Unfortunately, Deere's revenue dropped 4.8% last year, but the silver lining is that EBIT margins improved from 11% to 15%. That falls short of ideal.
The chart below shows how the company's bottom and top lines have progressed over time. Click on the chart to see the exact numbers.
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 Deere EPS 100% free.
Are Deere Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?
We would not expect to see insiders owning a large percentage of a US$109b company like Deere. But we are reassured by the fact they have invested in the company. Indeed, they have a glittering mountain of wealth invested in it, currently valued at US$212m. I would find that kind of skin in the game quite encouraging, if I owned shares, since it would ensure that the leaders of the company would also experience my success, or failure, with the stock.
Does Deere Deserve A Spot On Your Watchlist?
You can't deny that Deere 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. It's still necessary to consider the ever-present spectre of investment risk. We've identified 2 warning signs with Deere (at least 1 which is significant) , and understanding these should be part of your investment process.
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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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. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.
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