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 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.
In the age of tech-stock blue-sky investing, my choice may seem old fashioned; I still prefer profitable companies like South Jersey Industries (NYSE:SJI). Even if the shares are fully valued today, most capitalists would recognize its profits as the demonstration of steady value generation. Conversely, a loss-making company is yet to prove itself with profit, and eventually the sweet milk of external capital may run sour.
How Fast Is South Jersey Industries Growing Its Earnings Per Share?
In the last three years South Jersey Industries'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 firecracker arcing through the night sky, South Jersey Industries's EPS shot from US$0.84 to US$1.62, over the last year. You don't see 93% year-on-year growth like that, very often.
Careful consideration of revenue growth and earnings before interest and taxation (EBIT) margins can help inform a view on the sustainability of the recent profit growth. South Jersey Industries's EBIT margins have actually improved by 5.5 percentage points in the last year, to reach 18%, but, on the flip side, revenue was down 5.3%. That's not ideal.
In the chart below, you can see how the company has grown earnings, and revenue, over time. To see the actual numbers, click on the chart.
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 South Jersey Industries EPS 100% free.
Are South Jersey Industries 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 South Jersey Industries shares worth a considerable sum. Indeed, they hold US$16m worth of its stock. That's a lot of money, and no small incentive to work hard. Despite being just 0.5% of the company, the value of that investment is enough to show insiders have plenty riding on the venture.
Is South Jersey Industries Worth Keeping An Eye On?
South Jersey Industries's earnings per share have taken off like a rocket aimed right at the moon. 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 yes, on this short analysis I do think it's worth considering South Jersey Industries for a spot on your watchlist. You still need to take note of risks, for example - South Jersey Industries has 2 warning signs (and 1 which is a bit concerning) we think you should know about.
Although South Jersey Industries 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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