For beginners, it can seem like a good idea (and an exciting prospect) to buy a company that tells a good story to investors, even if it completely lacks a track record of revenue and 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.
In the age of tech-stock blue-sky investing, my choice may seem old fashioned; I still prefer profitable companies like Journey Energy (TSE:JOY). Even if the shares are fully valued today, most capitalists would recognize its profits as the demonstration of steady value generation. 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.
View our latest analysis for Journey Energy
Journey Energy's Improving Profits
In business, though not in life, profits are a key measure of success; and share prices tend to reflect earnings per share (EPS). So like a ray of sunshine through a gap in the clouds, improving EPS is considered a good sign. You can imagine, then, that it almost knocked my socks off when I realized that Journey Energy grew its EPS from CA$0.24 to CA$2.02, in one short year. Even though that growth rate is unlikely to be repeated, that looks like a breakout improvement. But the key is discerning whether something profound has changed, or if this is a just a one-off boost.
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). Journey Energy shareholders can take confidence from the fact that EBIT margins are up from -16% to 29%, 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. For finer detail, click on the image.
Since Journey Energy is no giant, with a market capitalization of CA$292m, so you should definitely check its cash and debt before getting too excited about its prospects.
Are Journey Energy Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?
It makes me feel more secure owning shares in a company if insiders also own shares, thusly more closely aligning our interests. As a result, I'm encouraged by the fact that insiders own Journey Energy shares worth a considerable sum. Indeed, they hold CA$25m worth of its stock. That shows significant buy-in, and may indicate conviction in the business strategy. That amounts to 8.6% of the company, demonstrating a degree of high-level alignment with shareholders.
Does Journey Energy Deserve A Spot On Your Watchlist?
Journey Energy's earnings per share growth have been levitating higher, like a mountain goat scaling the Alps. That EPS growth certainly has my attention, and the large insider ownership only serves to further stoke my interest. At times fast EPS growth is a sign the business has reached an inflection point; and I do like those. So to my mind Journey Energy is worth putting on your watchlist; after all, shareholders do well when the market underestimates fast growing companies. Before you take the next step you should know about the 3 warning signs for Journey Energy (1 doesn't sit too well with us!) that we have uncovered.
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.