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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. 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.
If, on the other hand, you like companies that have revenue, and even earn profits, then you may well be interested in Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN). 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.
How Fast Is Amazon.com Growing Its Earnings Per Share?
In business, though not in life, profits are a key measure of success; and share prices tend to reflect earnings per share (EPS). So like a ray of sunshine through a gap in the clouds, improving EPS is considered a good sign. You can imagine, then, that it almost knocked my socks off when I realized that Amazon.com grew its EPS from US$8.17 to US$24.56, in one short year. When you see earnings grow that quickly, it often means good things ahead for the company.
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. The good news is that Amazon.com is growing revenues, and EBIT margins improved by 3.6 percentage points to 6.2%, 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. Click on the chart to see the exact numbers.
The trick, as an investor, is to find companies that are going to perform well in the future, not just in the past. To that end, right now and today, you can check our visualization of consensus analyst forecasts for future Amazon.com EPS 100% free.
Are Amazon.com Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?
We would not expect to see insiders owning a large percentage of a US$864b company like Amazon.com. But we are reassured by the fact they have invested in the company. Notably, they have an enormous stake in the company, worth US$139b. That equates to 16% of the company, making insiders powerful and aligned with other shareholders. So it might be my imagination, but I do sense the glimmer of an opportunity.
It’s good to see that insiders are invested in the company, but are remuneration levels reasonable? A brief analysis of the CEO compensation suggests they are. For companies with market capitalizations over US$8.0b, like Amazon.com, the median CEO pay is around US$11m.
The Amazon.com CEO received total compensation of just US$1.7m in the year to December 2018. That’s clearly well below average, so at a glance, that arrangement seems generous to shareholders, and points to a modest remuneration culture. 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. It can also be a sign of a culture of integrity, in a broader sense.
Is Amazon.com Worth Keeping An Eye On?
Amazon.com’s earnings have taken off like any random crypto-currency did, back in 2017. The sweetener is that insiders have a mountain of stock, and the CEO remuneration is quite reasonable. The strong EPS improvement suggests the businesses is humming along. Amazon.com certainly ticks a few of my boxes, so I think it’s probably well worth further consideration. If you think Amazon.com might suit your style as an investor, you could go straight to its annual report, or you could first check our discounted cash flow (DCF) valuation for the company.
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.