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 Peter Lynch said in One Up On Wall Street, ‘Long shots almost never pay off.’
So if you’re like me, you might be more interested in profitable, growing companies, like AudioCodes (NASDAQ:AUDC). While profit is not necessarily a social good, it’s easy to admire a business than can consistently produce it. Conversely, a loss-making company is yet to prove itself with profit, and eventually the sweet milk of external capital may run sour.
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AudioCodes’s Improving Profits
In the last three years AudioCodes’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. Thus, it makes sense to focus on more recent growth rates, instead. Like the last firework on New Year’s Eve accelerating into the sky, AudioCodes’s EPS shot from US$0.17 to US$0.49, over the last year. Year on year growth of 187% is certainly a sight to behold.
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. AudioCodes shareholders can take confidence from the fact that EBIT margins are up from 6.5% to 10%, and revenue is growing. Ticking those two boxes is a good sign of growth, in my book.
In the chart below, you can see how the company has grown earnings, and revenue, over time. For finer detail, click on the image.
While it’s always good to see growing profits, you should always remember that a weak balance sheet could come back to bite. So check AudioCodes’s balance sheet strength, before getting too excited.
Are AudioCodes 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 AudioCodes shares worth a considerable sum. Indeed, they have a glittering mountain of wealth invested in it, currently valued at US$129m. Coming in at 29% of the business, that holding gives insiders a lot of influence, and plenty of reason to generate value for shareholders. Very encouraging.
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 between US$200m and US$800m, like AudioCodes, the median CEO pay is around US$1.8m.
AudioCodes offered total compensation worth US$1.5m to its CEO in the year to December 2018. That comes in below the average for similar sized companies, and seems pretty reasonable to me. 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.
Is AudioCodes Worth Keeping An Eye On?
AudioCodes’s earnings per share have taken off like a rocket aimed right at the moon. 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. AudioCodes certainly ticks a few of my boxes, so I think it’s probably well worth further consideration. Of course, identifying quality businesses is only half the battle; investors need to know whether the stock is undervalued. So you might want to consider this free discounted cashflow valuation of AudioCodes.
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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