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 . 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 Utah Medical Products (NASDAQ:UTMD), which has not only revenues, but also profits. 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 Fast Is Utah Medical Products 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). That means EPS growth is considered a real positive by most successful long-term investors. We can see that in the last three years Utah Medical Products grew its EPS by 16% per year. That growth rate is fairly good, assuming the company can keep it up.
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). It seems Utah Medical Products is pretty stable, since revenue and EBIT margins are pretty flat year on year. That’s not bad, but it doesn’t point to ongoing future growth, either.
The chart below shows how the company’s bottom and top lines have progressed over time. For finer detail, click on the image.
While it’s always good to see growing profits, you should always remember that a weak balance sheet could come back to bite. So check Utah Medical Products’s balance sheet strength, before getting too excited.
Are Utah Medical Products Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?
I like company leaders to have some skin in the game, so to speak, because it increases alignment of incentives between the people running the business, and its true owners. As a result, I’m encouraged by the fact that insiders own Utah Medical Products shares worth a considerable sum. To be specific, they have US$23m worth of shares. That’s a lot of money, and no small incentive to work hard. Those holdings account for over 7.3% of the company; visible skin in the game.
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 US$200m and US$800m, like Utah Medical Products, the median CEO pay is around US$1.5m.
The Utah Medical Products CEO received total compensation of just US$501k in the year to December 2017. That’s clearly well below average, so at a glance, that arrangement seems generous to shareholders, and points to a modest remuneration culture. While the level of CEO compensation isn’t a huge factor in my view of the company, modest remuneration is a positive, because it suggests that the board keeps shareholder interests in mind. I’d also argue reasonable pay levels attest to good decision making more generally.
Should You Add Utah Medical Products To Your Watchlist?
As I already mentioned, Utah Medical Products is a growing business, which is what I like to see. Earnings growth might be the main game for Utah Medical Products, but the fun does not stop there. Boasting both modest CEO pay and considerable insider ownership, I’d argue this one is worthy of the watchlist, at least. 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 Utah Medical Products 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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