Here's Why I Think Universal Health Services (NYSE:UHS) Is An Interesting Stock

By
Simply Wall St
Published
September 27, 2021
NYSE:UHS
Source: Shutterstock

Some have more dollars than sense, they say, so even companies that have no revenue, no profit, and a record of falling short, can easily find investors. But as Peter Lynch said in One Up On Wall Street, 'Long shots almost never pay off.'

In contrast to all that, I prefer to spend time on companies like Universal Health Services (NYSE:UHS), 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. While a well funded company may sustain losses for years, unless its owners have an endless appetite for subsidizing the customer, it will need to generate a profit eventually, or else breathe its last breath.

View our latest analysis for Universal Health Services

Universal Health Services's Earnings Per Share Are Growing.

As one of my mentors once told me, share price follows earnings per share (EPS). It's no surprise, then, that I like to invest in companies with EPS growth. Over the last three years, Universal Health Services has grown EPS by 15% per year. That's a pretty good rate, if the company can sustain it.

Careful consideration of revenue growth and earnings before interest and taxation (EBIT) margins can help inform a view on the sustainability of the recent profit growth. While we note Universal Health Services's EBIT margins were flat over the last year, revenue grew by a solid 8.3% to US$12b. That's progress.

The chart below shows how the company's bottom and top lines have progressed over time. For finer detail, click on the image.

earnings-and-revenue-history
NYSE:UHS Earnings and Revenue History September 27th 2021

Of course the knack is to find stocks that have their best days in the future, not in the past. You could base your opinion on past performance, of course, but you may also want to check this interactive graph of professional analyst EPS forecasts for Universal Health Services.

Are Universal Health Services Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?

Since Universal Health Services has a market capitalization of US$12b, we wouldn't expect insiders to hold a large percentage of shares. 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$1.3b. This suggests to me that leadership will be very mindful of shareholders' interests when making decisions!

It means a lot to see insiders invested in the business, but I find myself wondering if remuneration policies are shareholder friendly. A brief analysis of the CEO compensation suggests they are. I discovered that the median total compensation for the CEOs of companies like Universal Health Services, with market caps over US$8.0b, is about US$11m.

The Universal Health Services CEO received total compensation of just US$2.3m in the year to . That looks like modest pay to me, and may hint at a certain respect for the interests of shareholders. 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.

Does Universal Health Services Deserve A Spot On Your Watchlist?

One important encouraging feature of Universal Health Services is that it is growing profits. The fact that EPS is growing is a genuine positive for Universal Health Services, but the pretty picture gets better than that. Boasting both modest CEO pay and considerable insider ownership, I'd argue this one is worthy of the watchlist, at least. It's still necessary to consider the ever-present spectre of investment risk. We've identified 2 warning signs with Universal Health Services , and understanding these should be part of your investment process.

Although Universal Health Services certainly looks good to me, I would like it more if insiders were buying up shares. If you like to see insider buying, too, then this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying, could be exactly what you're looking for.

Please note the insider transactions discussed in this article refer to reportable transactions in the relevant jurisdiction.

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