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.
If, on the other hand, you like companies that have revenue, and even earn profits, then you may well be interested in AstraZeneca (LON:AZN). While that doesn't make the shares worth buying at any price, you can't deny that successful capitalism requires profit, eventually. In comparison, loss making companies act like a sponge for capital - but unlike such a sponge they do not always produce something when squeezed.
AstraZeneca's Earnings Per Share Are Growing.
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). Therefore, there are plenty of investors who like to buy shares in companies that are growing EPS. AstraZeneca managed to grow EPS by 4.9% per year, over three years. That might not be particularly high growth, but it does show that per-share earnings are moving steadily in the right direction.
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). While AstraZeneca did well to grow revenue over the last year, EBIT margins were dampened at the same time. So if EBIT margins can stabilize, this top-line growth should pay off for shareholders.
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 AstraZeneca EPS 100% free.
Are AstraZeneca Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?
Like the kids in the streets standing up for their beliefs, insider share purchases give me reason to believe in a brighter future. This view is based on the possibility that stock purchases signal bullishness on behalf of the buyer. Of course, we can never be sure what insiders are thinking, we can only judge their actions.
It's a pleasure to note that insiders spent US$2.0m buying AstraZeneca shares, over the last year, without reporting any share sales whatsoever. As if for a flower bud approaching bloom, I become an expectant observer, anticipating with hope, that something splendid is coming. It is also worth noting that it was Chief Executive Officer of Alexion Marc Dunoyer who made the biggest single purchase, worth UK£1.8m, paying UK£84.09 per share.
The good news, alongside the insider buying, for AstraZeneca bulls is that insiders (collectively) have a meaningful investment in the stock. Given insiders own a small fortune of shares, currently valued at US$42m, they have plenty of motivation to push the business to succeed. That's certainly enough to make me think that management will be very focussed on long term growth.
Does AstraZeneca Deserve A Spot On Your Watchlist?
As I already mentioned, AstraZeneca is a growing business, which is what I like to see. On top of that, we've seen insiders buying shares even though they already own plenty. To me, that all makes it well worth a spot on your watchlist, as well as continuing research. We don't want to rain on the parade too much, but we did also find 4 warning signs for AstraZeneca that you need to be mindful of.
There are plenty of other companies that have insiders buying up shares. So if you like the sound of AstraZeneca, you'll probably love this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying.
Please note the insider transactions discussed in this article refer to reportable transactions in the relevant jurisdiction.
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.
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