Stock Analysis

Here's Why I Think West Pharmaceutical Services (NYSE:WST) Is An Interesting Stock

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NYSE:WST
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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. 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.

So if you're like me, you might be more interested in profitable, growing companies, like West Pharmaceutical Services (NYSE:WST). Even if the shares are fully valued today, most capitalists would recognize its profits as the demonstration of steady value generation. Conversely, a loss-making company is yet to prove itself with profit, and eventually the sweet milk of external capital may run sour.

See our latest analysis for West Pharmaceutical Services

How Fast Is West Pharmaceutical Services Growing?

The market is a voting machine in the short term, but a weighing machine in the long term, so share price follows earnings per share (EPS) eventually. Therefore, there are plenty of investors who like to buy shares in companies that are growing EPS. I, for one, am blown away by the fact that West Pharmaceutical Services has grown EPS by 51% per year, over the last three years. Growth that fast may well be fleeting, but like a lotus blooming from a murky pond, it sparks joy for the wary stock pickers.

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. The good news is that West Pharmaceutical Services is growing revenues, and EBIT margins improved by 7.0 percentage points to 25%, over the last year. Ticking those two boxes is a good sign of growth, in my book.

The chart below shows how the company's bottom and top lines have progressed over time. To see the actual numbers, click on the chart.

earnings-and-revenue-history
NYSE:WST Earnings and Revenue History October 11th 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 West Pharmaceutical Services.

Are West Pharmaceutical Services Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?

Since West Pharmaceutical Services has a market capitalization of US$30b, 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. Indeed, they have a glittering mountain of wealth invested in it, currently valued at US$187m. This suggests to me that leadership will be very mindful of shareholders' interests when making decisions!

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 over US$8.0b, like West Pharmaceutical Services, the median CEO pay is around US$11m.

The West Pharmaceutical Services CEO received US$7.6m in compensation for the year ending . That seems pretty reasonable, especially given its below the median for similar sized companies. 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. I'd also argue reasonable pay levels attest to good decision making more generally.

Does West Pharmaceutical Services Deserve A Spot On Your Watchlist?

West Pharmaceutical Services's earnings have taken off like any random crypto-currency did, back in 2017. The cherry on top is that insiders own a bucket-load of shares, and the CEO pay seems really quite reasonable. The sharp increase in earnings could signal good business momentum. Big growth can make big winners, so I do think West Pharmaceutical Services is worth considering carefully. Of course, profit growth is one thing but it's even better if West Pharmaceutical Services 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.

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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