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. Unfortunately, high risk investments often have little probability of ever paying off, and many investors pay a price to learn their lesson.
In contrast to all that, I prefer to spend time on companies like AH-Vest (JSE:AHL), which has not only revenues, but also profits. Now, I'm not saying that the stock is necessarily undervalued today; but I can't shake an appreciation for the profitability of the business itself. 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.
How Fast Is AH-Vest Growing?
The market is a voting machine in the short term, but a weighing machine in the long term, so share price follows earnings per share (EPS) eventually. That makes EPS growth an attractive quality for any company. I, for one, am blown away by the fact that AH-Vest has grown EPS by 54% per year, over the last three years. Growth that fast may well be fleeting, but like a lotus blooming from a murky pond, it sparks joy for the wary stock pickers.
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. While we note AH-Vest's EBIT margins were flat over the last year, revenue grew by a solid 10% to R196m. That's a real positive.
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.
Since AH-Vest is no giant, with a market capitalization of R41m, so you should definitely check its cash and debt before getting too excited about its prospects.
Are AH-Vest Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?
I always like to check up on CEO compensation, because I think that reasonable pay levels, around or below the median, can be a sign that shareholder interests are well considered. I discovered that the median total compensation for the CEOs of companies like AH-Vest with market caps under R2.9b is about R4.1m.
The AH-Vest CEO received total compensation of only R345k in the year to . You could consider this pay as somewhat symbolic, which suggests the CEO does not need a lot of compensation to stay motivated. 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 AH-Vest Worth Keeping An Eye On?
AH-Vest's earnings per share have taken off like a rocket aimed right at the moon. With rocketing profits, its seems likely the business has a rosy future; and it may have hit an inflection point. Meanwhile, the very reasonable CEO pay reassures me a little, since it points to an absence profligacy. So AH-Vest looks like it could be a good quality growth stock, at first glance. That's worth watching. It is worth noting though that we have found 3 warning signs for AH-Vest (1 is potentially serious!) that you need to take into consideration.
Of course, you can do well (sometimes) buying stocks that are not growing earnings and do not have insiders buying shares. But as a growth investor I always like to check out companies that do have those features. You can access a free list of them here.
Please note the insider transactions discussed in this article refer to reportable transactions in the relevant jurisdiction.
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