Canada Markets closed

If You Like EPS Growth Then Check Out Manulife Financial (TSE:MFC) Before It's Too Late

Simply Wall St

Want to participate in a short research study? Help shape the future of investing tools and you could win a $250 gift card!

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. Unfortunately, high risk investments often have little probability of ever paying off, and many investors pay a price to learn their lesson.

So if you're like me, you might be more interested in profitable, growing companies, like Manulife Financial (TSE:MFC). Even if the shares are fully valued today, most capitalists would recognize its profits as the demonstration of steady value generation. 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 Manulife Financial

How Fast Is Manulife Financial Growing?

If a company can keep growing earnings per share (EPS) long enough, its share price will eventually follow. Therefore, there are plenty of investors who like to buy shares in companies that are growing EPS. Impressively, Manulife Financial has grown EPS by 31% per year, compound, in the last three years. As a general rule, we'd say that if a company can keep up that sort of growth, shareholders will be smiling.

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. Not all of Manulife Financial's revenue this year is revenue from operations, so keep in mind the revenue and margin numbers I've used might not be the best representation of the underlying business. This approach makes Manulife Financial look pretty good, on balance; although revenue is flattish, EBIT margins improved from 7.0% to 15% in the last year. That's something to smile about.

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.

TSX:MFC Income Statement, July 19th 2019

The trick, as an investor, is to find companies that are going to perform well in the future, not just in the past. To that end, right now and today, you can check our visualization of consensus analyst forecasts for future Manulife Financial EPS 100% free.

Are Manulife Financial Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?

Like that fresh smell in the air when the rains are coming, insider buying fills me with optimistic anticipation. That's because insider buying often indicates that those closest to the company have confidence that the share price will perform well. However, insiders are sometimes wrong, and we don't know the exact thinking behind their acquisitions.

It's a pleasure to note that insiders spent CA$1.4m buying Manulife Financial shares, over the last year, without reporting any share sales whatsoever. And so I find myself almost expectant, and certainly hopeful, that this large outlay signals prescient optimism for the business. Zooming in, we can see that the biggest insider purchase was by Director Claude Prieur for CA$942k worth of shares, at about CA$20.93 per share.

The good news, alongside the insider buying, for Manulife Financial bulls is that insiders (collectively) have a meaningful investment in the stock. Indeed, they hold CA$21m worth of its stock. That shows significant buy-in, and may indicate conviction in the business strategy. Despite being just 0.04% of the company, the value of that investment is enough to show insiders have plenty riding on the venture.

Does Manulife Financial Deserve A Spot On Your Watchlist?

Given my belief that share price follows earnings per share you can easily imagine how I feel about Manulife Financial's strong EPS growth. On top of that, insiders own a significant stake in the company and have been buying more shares. So it's fair to say I think this stock may well deserve a spot on your watchlist. Of course, just because Manulife Financial 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.

There are plenty of other companies that have insiders buying up shares. So if you like the sound of Manulife Financial, you'll probably love this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying.

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.