Do Instem’s (LON:INS) Earnings Warrant Your Attention?

Like a puppy chasing its tail, some new investors often chase ‘the next big thing’, even if that means buying ‘story stocks’ without revenue, let alone profit. And in their study titled Who Falls Prey to the Wolf of Wall Street?’ Leuz et. al. found that it is ‘quite common’ for investors to lose money by buying into ‘pump and dump’ schemes.

In the age of tech-stock blue-sky investing, my choice may seem old fashioned; I still prefer profitable companies like Instem (LON:INS). While profit is not necessarily a social good, it’s easy to admire a business that can consistently produce it. Loss-making companies are always racing against time to reach financial sustainability, but time is often a friend of the profitable company, especially if it is growing.

Check out our latest analysis for Instem

How Fast Is Instem Growing Its Earnings Per Share?

In the last three years Instem’s earnings per share took off like a rocket; fast, and from a low base. So the actual rate of growth doesn’t tell us much. Thus, it makes sense to focus on more recent growth rates, instead. Like a falcon taking flight, Instem’s EPS soared from UK£0.087 to UK£0.11, over the last year. That’s a impressive gain of 26%.

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). Instem shareholders can take confidence from the fact that EBIT margins are up from 6.5% to 10%, and revenue is growing. Ticking those two boxes is a good sign of growth, in my book.

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.

AIM:INS Income Statement, March 23rd 2020

Of course the knack is to find stocks that have their best days in the future, not in the past. You could base your opinion on past performance, of course, but you may also want to check this interactive graph of professional analyst EPS forecasts for Instem.

Are Instem 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 Instem shares worth a considerable sum. To be specific, they have UK£11m worth of shares. That shows significant buy-in, and may indicate conviction in the business strategy. That amounts to 17% of the company, demonstrating a degree of high-level alignment with shareholders.

It means a lot to see insiders invested in the business, but I find myself wondering if remuneration policies are shareholder friendly. A brief analysis of the CEO compensation suggests they are. For companies with market capitalizations under UK£170m, like Instem, the median CEO pay is around UK£276k.

Instem offered total compensation worth UK£243k to its CEO in the year to . That seems pretty reasonable, especially given its below the median for similar sized companies. CEO remuneration levels are not the most important metric for investors, but when the pay is modest, that does support enhanced alignment between the CEO and the ordinary shareholders. It can also be a sign of a culture of integrity, in a broader sense.

Should You Add Instem To Your Watchlist?

For growth investors like me, Instem’s raw rate of earnings growth is a beacon in the night. If that’s not enough, consider also that the CEO pay is quite reasonable, and insiders are well-invested alongside other shareholders. This may only be a fast rundown, but the takeaway for me is that Instem is worth keeping an eye on. Before you take the next step you should know about the 2 warning signs for Instem 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.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at [email protected] This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Thank you for reading.

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