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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 the reality is that when a company loses money each year, for long enough, its investors will usually take their share of those losses.
In the age of tech-stock blue-sky investing, my choice may seem old fashioned; I still prefer profitable companies like WD-40 (NASDAQ:WDFC). 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. Conversely, a loss-making company is yet to prove itself with profit, and eventually the sweet milk of external capital may run sour.
WD-40’s Earnings Per Share Are 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). It’s no surprise, then, that I like to invest in companies with EPS growth. Over the last three years, WD-40 has grown EPS by 13% per year. That growth rate is fairly good, assuming the company can keep it up.
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 WD-40’s EBIT margins were flat over the last year, revenue grew by a solid 4.7% to US$412m. That’s progress.
In the chart below, you can see how the company has grown earnings, and revenue, over time. Click on the chart to see the exact numbers.
In investing, as in life, the future matters more than the past. So why not check out this free interactive visualization of WD-40’s forecast profits?
Are WD-40 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 WD-40 shares worth a considerable sum. With a whopping US$66m worth of shares as a group, insiders have plenty riding on the company’s success. This should keep them focused on creating long term value for shareholders.
It means a lot to see insiders invested in the business, but I find myself wondering if remuneration policies are shareholder friendly. Well, based on the CEO pay, I’d say they are indeed. For companies with market capitalizations between US$1.0b and US$3.2b, like WD-40, the median CEO pay is around US$4.1m.
WD-40 offered total compensation worth US$2.4m to its CEO in the year to August 2018. That comes in below the average for similar sized companies, and seems pretty reasonable to me. CEO remuneration levels are not the most important metric for investors, but when the pay is modest, that does support enhanced alignment between the CEO and the ordinary shareholders. It can also be a sign of good governance, more generally.
Does WD-40 Deserve A Spot On Your Watchlist?
As I already mentioned, WD-40 is a growing business, which is what I like to see. Earnings growth might be the main game for WD-40, 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. Now, you could try to make up your mind on WD-40 by focusing on just these factors, or you could also consider how its price-to-earnings ratio compares to other companies 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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If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at email@example.com. 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. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.