Some have more dollars than sense, they say, so even companies that have no revenue, no profit, and a record of falling short, can easily find investors. But as Peter Lynch said in One Up On Wall Street, 'Long shots almost never pay off.'
In the age of tech-stock blue-sky investing, my choice may seem old fashioned; I still prefer profitable companies like Manulife Financial (TSE:MFC). Even if the shares are fully valued today, most capitalists would recognize its profits as the demonstration of steady value generation. In comparison, loss making companies act like a sponge for capital - but unlike such a sponge they do not always produce something when squeezed.
How Quickly Is Manulife Financial Increasing Earnings Per Share?
If you believe that markets are even vaguely efficient, then over the long term you'd expect a company's share price to follow its earnings per share (EPS). That means EPS growth is considered a real positive by most successful long-term investors. We can see that in the last three years Manulife Financial grew its EPS by 15% per year. That's a pretty good rate, if the company can sustain it.
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. I note that Manulife Financial's revenue from operations was lower than its revenue in the last twelve months, so that could distort my analysis of its margins. Unfortunately, Manulife Financial's revenue dropped 22% last year, but the silver lining is that EBIT margins improved from 10% to 16%. That falls short of 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.
In investing, as in life, the future matters more than the past. So why not check out this free interactive visualization of Manulife Financial's forecast profits?
Are Manulife Financial Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?
Since Manulife Financial has a market capitalization of CA$48b, we wouldn't expect insiders to hold a large percentage of shares. But we do take comfort from the fact that they are investors in the company. To be specific, they have CA$29m worth of shares. That's a lot of money, and no small incentive to work hard. Despite being just 0.06% of the company, the value of that investment is enough to show insiders have plenty riding on the venture.
Is Manulife Financial Worth Keeping An Eye On?
One positive for Manulife Financial is that it is growing EPS. That's nice to see. If that's not enough on its own, there is also the rather notable levels of insider ownership. That combination appeals to me, for one. So yes, I do think the stock is worth keeping an eye on. While we've looked at the quality of the earnings, we haven't yet done any work to value the stock. So if you like to buy cheap, you may want to check if Manulife Financial is trading on a high P/E or a low P/E, relative to its industry.
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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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.