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. And in their study titled Who Falls Prey to the Wolf of Wall Street?' Leuz et. al. found that it is 'quite common' for investors to lose money by buying into 'pump and dump' schemes.
So if you're like me, you might be more interested in profitable, growing companies, like NRG Energy (NYSE:NRG). While profit is not necessarily a social good, it's easy to admire a business that can consistently produce it. While a well funded company may sustain losses for years, unless its owners have an endless appetite for subsidizing the customer, it will need to generate a profit eventually, or else breathe its last breath.
NRG Energy's Improving Profits
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 the hint of a smile on a face that I love, growing EPS generally makes me look twice. You can imagine, then, that it almost knocked my socks off when I realized that NRG Energy grew its EPS from US$2.22 to US$16.78, in one short year. When you see earnings grow that quickly, it often means good things ahead for the company.
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). Unfortunately, NRG Energy's revenue dropped 3.7% last year, but the silver lining is that EBIT margins improved from 12% to 15%. That falls short of ideal.
The chart below shows how the company's bottom and top lines have progressed over time. For finer detail, click on the image.
In investing, as in life, the future matters more than the past. So why not check out this free interactive visualization of NRG Energy's forecast profits?
Are NRG Energy Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?
We would not expect to see insiders owning a large percentage of a US$7.5b company like NRG Energy. But we are reassured by the fact they have invested in the company. Indeed, they hold US$49m worth of its stock. That's a lot of money, and no small incentive to work hard. Even though that's only about 0.7% of the company, it's enough money to indicate alignment between the leaders of the business and ordinary shareholders.
Is NRG Energy Worth Keeping An Eye On?
NRG Energy's earnings per share growth have been levitating higher, like a mountain goat scaling the Alps. That sort of growth is nothing short of eye-catching, and the large investment held by insiders certainly brightens my view of the company. At times fast EPS growth is a sign the business has reached an inflection point; and I do like those. So to my mind NRG Energy is worth putting on your watchlist; after all, shareholders do well when the market underestimates fast growing companies. It is worth noting though that we have found 4 warning signs for NRG Energy (2 are potentially serious!) that you need to take into consideration.
Although NRG Energy certainly looks good to me, I would like it more if insiders were buying up shares. If you like to see insider buying, too, then this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying, could be exactly what you're looking for.
Please note the insider transactions discussed in this article refer to reportable transactions in the relevant jurisdiction.
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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. 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.
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