I Ran A Stock Scan For Earnings Growth And Middlesex Water (NASDAQ:MSEX) Passed With Ease

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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. And in . found that it is ‘quite common’ for investors to lose money by buying into ‘pump and dump’ schemes.

If, on the other hand, you like companies that have revenue, and even earn profits, then you may well be interested in Middlesex Water (NASDAQ:MSEX). While that doesn’t make the shares worth buying at any price, you can’t deny that successful capitalism requires profit, eventually. Loss-making companies are always racing against time to reach financial sustainability, but time is often a friend of the profitable company, especially if it is growing.

View our latest analysis for Middlesex Water

How Quickly Is Middlesex Water Increasing Earnings Per Share?

As one of my mentors once told me, share price follows earnings per share (EPS). That makes EPS growth an attractive quality for any company. As a tree reaches steadily for the sky, Middlesex Water’s EPS has grown 17% each year, compound, over three years. If the company can sustain that sort of growth, we’d expect shareholders to come away winners.

I like to take a look at earnings before interest and (EBIT) tax margins, as well as revenue growth, to get another take on the quality of the company’s growth. While we note Middlesex Water’s EBIT margins were flat over the last year, revenue grew by a solid 5.6% to US$138m. That’s a real positive.

The chart below shows how the company’s bottom and top lines have progressed over time. To see the actual numbers, click on the chart.

NasdaqGS:MSEX Income Statement, May 6th 2019
NasdaqGS:MSEX Income Statement, May 6th 2019

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 Middlesex Water’s balance sheet strength, before getting too excited.

Are Middlesex Water 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. So it is good to see that Middlesex Water insiders have a significant amount of capital invested in the stock. To be specific, they have US$35m worth of shares. That’s a lot of money, and no small incentive to work hard. Despite being just 3.7%, the value of that investment is enough to show insiders have plenty riding on the venture.

It means a lot to see insiders invested in the business, but I find myself wondering if remuneration policies are shareholder friendly. A brief analysis of the CEO compensation suggests they are. For companies with market capitalizations between US$400m and US$1.6b, like Middlesex Water, the median CEO pay is around US$2.4m.

Middlesex Water offered total compensation worth US$1.5m to its CEO in the year to December 2017. That seems pretty reasonable, especially given its below the median for similar sized companies. While the level of CEO compensation isn’t a huge factor in my view of the company, modest remuneration is a positive, because it suggests that the board keeps shareholder interests in mind. I’d also argue reasonable pay levels attest to good decision making more generally.

Is Middlesex Water Worth Keeping An Eye On?

For growth investors like me, Middlesex Water’s raw rate of earnings growth is a beacon in the night. If you need more convincing beyond that EPS growth rate, don’t forget about the reasonable remuneration and the high insider ownership. Each to their own, but I think all this makes Middlesex Water look rather interesting indeed. Of course, just because Middlesex Water is growing does not mean it is undervalued. If you’re wondering about the valuation, check out this gauge of its price-to-earnings ratio, as compared to 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 editorial-team@simplywallst.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.