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 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.
In the age of tech-stock blue-sky investing, my choice may seem old fashioned; I still prefer profitable companies like SunPower (NASDAQ:SPWR). 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 SunPower Growing Its Earnings Per Share?
In the last three years SunPower's earnings per share took off like a rocket; fast, and from a low base. So the actual rate of growth doesn't tell us much. As a result, I'll zoom in on growth over the last year, instead. Like a wedge-tailed eagle on the wind, SunPower's EPS soared from US$1.55 to US$2.05, in just one year. That's a commendable gain of 33%.
I like to see top-line growth as an indication that growth is sustainable, and I look for a high earnings before interest and taxation (EBIT) margin to point to a competitive moat (though some companies with low margins also have moats). The good news is that SunPower is growing revenues, and EBIT margins improved by 2.5 percentage points to 2.4%, over the last year. That's great to see, on both counts.
You can take a look at the company's revenue and earnings growth trend, in the chart below. To see the actual numbers, click on the chart.
In investing, as in life, the future matters more than the past. So why not check out this free interactive visualization of SunPower's forecast profits?
Are SunPower Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?
Since SunPower has a market capitalization of US$5.1b, 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 hold US$37m worth of its stock. That shows significant buy-in, and may indicate conviction in the business strategy. Despite being just 0.7% of the company, the value of that investment is enough to show insiders have plenty riding on the venture.
Is SunPower Worth Keeping An Eye On?
You can't deny that SunPower has grown its earnings per share at a very impressive rate. That's attractive. I think that EPS growth is something to boast of, and it doesn't surprise me that insiders are holding on to a considerable chunk of shares. Fast growth and confident insiders should be enough to warrant further research. So the answer is that I do think this is a good stock to follow along with. What about risks? Every company has them, and we've spotted 2 warning signs for SunPower (of which 1 makes us a bit uncomfortable!) you should know about.
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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