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 James Latham (LON:LTHM). Even if the shares are fully valued today, most capitalists would recognize its profits as the demonstration of steady value generation. 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.
How Fast Is James Latham Growing?
If a company can keep growing earnings per share (EPS) long enough, its share price will eventually follow. That makes EPS growth an attractive quality for any company. It certainly is nice to see that James Latham has managed to grow EPS by 36% per year over three years. As a general rule, we'd say that if a company can keep up that sort of growth, shareholders will be smiling.
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. James Latham shareholders can take confidence from the fact that EBIT margins are up from 6.1% to 14%, and revenue is growing. That's great to see, on both counts.
You can take a look at the company's revenue and earnings growth trend, in the chart below. Click on the chart to see the exact numbers.
While profitability drives the upside, prudent investors always check the balance sheet, too.
Are James Latham 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 James Latham shares worth a considerable sum. Notably, they have an enormous stake in the company, worth UK£85m. Coming in at 32% of the business, that holding gives insiders a lot of influence, and plenty of reason to generate value for shareholders. So it might be my imagination, but I do sense the glimmer of an opportunity.
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 UK£159m and UK£634m, like James Latham, the median CEO pay is around UK£816k.
The James Latham CEO received total compensation of just UK£283k in the year to . That's clearly well below average, so at a glance, that arrangement seems generous to shareholders, and points to a modest remuneration culture. 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.
Does James Latham Deserve A Spot On Your Watchlist?
For growth investors like me, James Latham'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 James Latham look rather interesting indeed. Even so, be aware that James Latham is showing 2 warning signs in our investment analysis , and 1 of those is a bit concerning...
Although James Latham 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. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. 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.