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 currently lacks a track record of revenue and profit. Sometimes these stories can cloud the minds of investors, leading them to invest with their emotions rather than on the merit of good company fundamentals. 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.
So if this idea of high risk and high reward doesn't suit, you might be more interested in profitable, growing companies, like Shell (LON:SHEL). 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.
See our latest analysis for Shell
How Quickly Is Shell Increasing Earnings Per Share?
The market is a voting machine in the short term, but a weighing machine in the long term, so you'd expect share price to follow earnings per share (EPS) outcomes eventually. So it makes sense that experienced investors pay close attention to company EPS when undertaking investment research. Shareholders will be happy to know that Shell's EPS has grown 35% 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 beaming.
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. The music to the ears of Shell shareholders is that EBIT margins have grown from -3.8% to 15% in the last 12 months and revenues are on an upwards trend as well. Both of which are great metrics to check off for potential growth.
In the chart below, you can see how the company has grown earnings and revenue, over time. 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 Shell's future EPS 100% free.
Are Shell Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?
It's said that there's no smoke without fire. For investors, insider buying is often the smoke that indicates which stocks could set the market alight. This view is based on the possibility that stock purchases signal bullishness on behalf of the buyer. However, insiders are sometimes wrong, and we don't know the exact thinking behind their acquisitions.
The first bit of good news is that no Shell insiders reported share sales in the last twelve months. But the really good news is that Legal Director Donny Ching spent US$214k buying stock, at an average price of around US$19.47. It seems at least one insider thinks that the company is doing well - and they are backing that view with cash.
Along with the insider buying, another encouraging sign for Shell is that insiders, as a group, have a considerable shareholding. Holding US$54m worth of stock in the company is no laughing matter and insiders will be committed in delivering the best outcomes for shareholders. That's certainly enough to let shareholders know that management will be very focussed on long term growth.
Should You Add Shell To Your Watchlist?
You can't deny that Shell has grown its earnings per share at a very impressive rate. That's attractive. Better still, insiders own a large chunk of the company and one has even been buying more shares. Astute investors will want to keep this stock on watch. Even so, be aware that Shell is showing 2 warning signs in our investment analysis , and 1 of those is a bit unpleasant...
The good news is that Shell is not the only growth stock with insider buying. Here's a list of them... 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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