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. 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.
In the age of tech-stock blue-sky investing, my choice may seem old fashioned; I still prefer profitable companies like SSE (LON:SSE). While profit is not necessarily a social good, it's easy to admire a business that can consistently produce it. 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 SSE Growing?
As one of my mentors once told me, share price follows earnings per share (EPS). Therefore, there are plenty of investors who like to buy shares in companies that are growing EPS. As a tree reaches steadily for the sky, SSE's EPS has grown 28% each year, compound, 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.
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. Unfortunately, SSE's revenue dropped 64% last year, but the silver lining is that EBIT margins improved from 2.2% to 18%. That's not ideal.
The chart below shows how the company's bottom and top lines have progressed over time. Click on the chart to see the exact numbers.
While we live in the present moment at all times, there's no doubt in my mind that the future matters more than the past. So why not check this interactive chart depicting future EPS estimates, for SSE?
Are SSE 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. For companies with market capitalizations over UK£6.4b, like SSE, the median CEO pay is around UK£4.0m.
The SSE CEO received total compensation of just UK£1.7m in the year to . That looks like modest pay to me, and may hint at a certain respect for the interests of shareholders. 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 SSE Worth Keeping An Eye On?
For growth investors like me, SSE's raw rate of earnings growth is a beacon in the night. The fast growth bodes well while the very reasonable CEO pay assists builds some confidence in the board. So I'd argue this is the kind of stock worth watching, even if it isn't great value today. We don't want to rain on the parade too much, but we did also find 4 warning signs for SSE (1 makes us a bit uncomfortable!) that you need to be mindful of.
You can invest in 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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