Investors are often guided by the idea of discovering 'the next big thing', even if that means buying 'story stocks' without any revenue, let alone profit. But the reality is that when a company loses money each year, for long enough, its investors will usually take their share of those losses. Loss-making companies are always racing against time to reach financial sustainability, so investors in these companies may be taking on more risk than they should.
In contrast to all that, many investors prefer to focus on companies like West Pharmaceutical Services (NYSE:WST), which has not only revenues, but also profits. While this doesn't necessarily speak to whether it's undervalued, the profitability of the business is enough to warrant some appreciation - especially if its growing.
How Fast Is West Pharmaceutical Services Growing?
If a company can keep growing earnings per share (EPS) long enough, its share price should eventually follow. That means EPS growth is considered a real positive by most successful long-term investors. Recognition must be given to the that West Pharmaceutical Services has grown EPS by 44% per year, over the last three years. That sort of growth rarely ever lasts long, but it is well worth paying attention to when it happens.
Top-line growth is a great indicator that growth is sustainable, and combined with a high earnings before interest and taxation (EBIT) margin, it's a great way for a company to maintain a competitive advantage in the market. While we note West Pharmaceutical Services achieved similar EBIT margins to last year, revenue grew by a solid 16% to US$2.9b. That's progress.
You can take a look at the company's revenue and earnings growth trend, in the chart below. For finer detail, click on the image.
The trick, as an investor, is to find companies that are going to perform well in the future, not just in the past. While crystal balls don't exist, you can check our visualization of consensus analyst forecasts for West Pharmaceutical Services' future EPS 100% free.
Are West Pharmaceutical Services Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?
Since West Pharmaceutical Services has a market capitalisation of US$25b, we wouldn't expect insiders to hold a large percentage of shares. But thanks to their investment in the company, it's pleasing to see that there are still incentives to align their actions with the shareholders. Notably, they have an enviable stake in the company, worth US$141m. While that is a lot of skin in the game, we note this holding only totals to 0.6% of the business, which is a result of the company being so large. This still shows shareholders there is a degree of alignment between management and themselves.
It means a lot to see insiders invested in the business, but shareholders may be wondering if remuneration policies are in their best interest. Well, based on the CEO pay, you'd argue that they are indeed. For companies with market capitalisations over US$8.0b, like West Pharmaceutical Services, the median CEO pay is around US$13m.
West Pharmaceutical Services' CEO took home a total compensation package worth US$9.5m in the year leading up to December 2021. That is actually below the median for CEO's of similarly sized companies. While the level of CEO compensation shouldn't be the biggest factor in how the company is viewed, modest remuneration is a positive, because it suggests that the board keeps shareholder interests in mind. Generally, arguments can be made that reasonable pay levels attest to good decision-making.
Does West Pharmaceutical Services Deserve A Spot On Your Watchlist?
West Pharmaceutical Services' earnings have taken off in quite an impressive fashion. An added bonus for those interested is that management hold a heap of stock and the CEO pay is quite reasonable, illustrating good cash management. The strong EPS improvement suggests the businesses is humming along. Big growth can make big winners, so the writing on the wall tells us that West Pharmaceutical Services is worth considering carefully. Of course, just because West Pharmaceutical Services is growing does not mean it is undervalued. If you're wondering about the valuation, check out this gauge of its price-to-earnings ratio, as compared to its industry.
The beauty of investing is that you can invest in almost any company you want. But if you prefer to focus on stocks that have demonstrated insider buying, here is a list of companies with insider buying in the last three months.
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.
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