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Does Persimmon (LON:PSN) Deserve A Spot On Your Watchlist?

Simply Wall St

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 as Peter Lynch said in One Up On Wall Street, 'Long shots almost never pay off.'

So if you're like me, you might be more interested in profitable, growing companies, like Persimmon (LON:PSN). Now, I'm not saying that the stock is necessarily undervalued today; but I can't shake an appreciation for the profitability of the business itself. Conversely, a loss-making company is yet to prove itself with profit, and eventually the sweet milk of external capital may run sour.

See our latest analysis for Persimmon

Persimmon's Earnings Per Share Are Growing.

If you believe that markets are even vaguely efficient, then over the long term you'd expect a company's share price to follow its 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, Persimmon's EPS has grown 18% each year, compound, over three years. If the company can sustain that sort of growth, we'd expect shareholders to come away winners.

One way to double-check a company's growth is to look at how its revenue, and earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) margins are changing. Persimmon shareholders can take confidence from the fact that EBIT margins are up from 26% to 29%, and revenue is growing. Ticking those two boxes is a good sign of growth, in my book.

The chart below shows how the company's bottom and top lines have progressed over time. For finer detail, click on the image.

LSE:PSN Income Statement, August 7th 2019

You don't drive with your eyes on the rear-view mirror, so you might be more interested in this free report showing analyst forecasts for Persimmon's future profits.

Are Persimmon Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?

We would not expect to see insiders owning a large percentage of a UK£6.0b company like Persimmon. But we do take comfort from the fact that they are investors in the company. Given insiders own a small fortune of shares, currently valued at UK£71m, they have plenty of motivation to push the business to succeed. This should keep them focused on creating long term value for shareholders.

Should You Add Persimmon To Your Watchlist?

You can't deny that Persimmon has grown its earnings per share at a very impressive rate. That's attractive. Further, the high level of insider buying impresses me, and suggests that I'm not the only one who appreciates the EPS growth. So this is very likely the kind of business that I like to spend time researching, with a view to discerning its true value. Of course, just because Persimmon 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.

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

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.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. 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. Thank you for reading.