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 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 contrast to all that, I prefer to spend time on companies like MarketAxess Holdings (NASDAQ:MKTX), which has not only revenues, but also profits. 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. In comparison, loss making companies act like a sponge for capital – but unlike such a sponge they do not always produce something when squeezed.
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How Quickly Is MarketAxess Holdings Increasing Earnings Per Share?
If a company can keep growing earnings per share (EPS) long enough, its share price will eventually follow. Therefore, there are plenty of investors who like to buy shares in companies that are growing EPS. As a tree reaches steadily for the sky, MarketAxess Holdings’s EPS has grown 21% each year, compound, over three years. So it’s not surprising to see the company trades on a very high multiple of (past) earnings.
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). While MarketAxess Holdings did well to grow revenue over the last year, EBIT margins were dampened at the same time. So it seems the future my hold further growth, especially if EBIT margins can stabilize.
The chart below shows how the company’s bottom and top lines have progressed over time. For finer detail, click on the image.
In investing, as in life, the future matters more than the past. So why not check out this free interactive visualization of MarketAxess Holdings’s forecast profits?
Are MarketAxess Holdings Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?
We would not expect to see insiders owning a large percentage of a US$11b company like MarketAxess Holdings. But we do take comfort from the fact that they are investors in the company. Notably, they have an enormous stake in the company, worth US$388m. This suggests to me that leadership will be very mindful of shareholders’ interests when making decisions!
Does MarketAxess Holdings Deserve A Spot On Your Watchlist?
Given my belief that share price follows earnings per share you can easily imagine how I feel about MarketAxess Holdings’s strong EPS growth. 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. Of course, profit growth is one thing but it’s even better if MarketAxess Holdings is receiving high returns on equity, since that should imply it can keep growing without much need for capital. Click on this link to see how it is faring against the average in 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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