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. 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.
So if you're like me, you might be more interested in profitable, growing companies, like Orion Engineered Carbons (NYSE:OEC). While that doesn't make the shares worth buying at any price, you can't deny that successful capitalism requires profit, eventually. In comparison, loss making companies act like a sponge for capital - but unlike such a sponge they do not always produce something when squeezed.
Orion Engineered Carbons's Improving Profits
Even modest earnings per share growth (EPS) can create meaningful value, when it is sustained reliably from year to year. So it's no surprise that some investors are more inclined to invest in profitable businesses. It is therefore awe-striking that Orion Engineered Carbons's EPS went from US$0.30 to US$2.22 in just one year. When you see earnings grow that quickly, it often means good things ahead for the company. Could this be a sign that the business has reached an inflection point?
One way to double-check a company's growth is to look at how its revenue, and earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) margins are changing. Orion Engineered Carbons shareholders can take confidence from the fact that EBIT margins are up from 6.0% to 9.1%, and revenue is growing. That's great to see, on both counts.
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.
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 Orion Engineered Carbons.
Are Orion Engineered Carbons Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?
Like standing at the lookout, surveying the horizon at sunrise, insider buying, for some investors, sparks joy. Because oftentimes, the purchase of stock is a sign that the buyer views it as undervalued. Of course, we can never be sure what insiders are thinking, we can only judge their actions.
It's a pleasure to note that insiders spent US$1.1m buying Orion Engineered Carbons shares, over the last year, without reporting any share sales whatsoever. As if for a flower bud approaching bloom, I become an expectant observer, anticipating with hope, that something splendid is coming. It is also worth noting that it was CEO & Executive Director Corning Painter who made the biggest single purchase, worth US$522k, paying US$17.39 per share.
On top of the insider buying, it's good to see that Orion Engineered Carbons insiders have a valuable investment in the business. To be specific, they have US$16m worth of shares. That's a lot of money, and no small incentive to work hard. Despite being just 1.4% of the company, the value of that investment is enough to show insiders have plenty riding on the venture.
Is Orion Engineered Carbons Worth Keeping An Eye On?
Orion Engineered Carbons's earnings per share have taken off like a rocket aimed right at the moon. What's more insiders own a significant stake in the company and have been buying more shares. This quick rundown suggests that the business may be of good quality, and also at an inflection point, so maybe Orion Engineered Carbons deserves timely attention. It's still necessary to consider the ever-present spectre of investment risk. We've identified 2 warning signs with Orion Engineered Carbons , and understanding them should be part of your investment process.
There are plenty of other companies that have insiders buying up shares. So if you like the sound of Orion Engineered Carbons, you'll probably love this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying.
Please note the insider transactions discussed in this article refer to reportable transactions in the relevant jurisdiction.
This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.