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. But as Peter Lynch said in One Up On Wall Street, 'Long shots almost never pay off.' A loss-making company is yet to prove itself with profit, and eventually the inflow of external capital may dry up.
So if this idea of high risk and high reward doesn't suit, you might be more interested in profitable, growing companies, like Cipher Pharmaceuticals (TSE:CPH). Now this is not to say that the company presents the best investment opportunity around, but profitability is a key component to success in business.
How Quickly Is Cipher Pharmaceuticals Increasing Earnings Per Share?
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) outcomes. Therefore, there are plenty of investors who like to buy shares in companies that are growing EPS. To the delight of shareholders, Cipher Pharmaceuticals has achieved impressive annual EPS growth of 48%, compound, over the last three years. While that sort of growth rate isn't sustainable for long, it certainly catches the eye of prospective investors.
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. Cipher Pharmaceuticals' EBIT margins are flat but, worryingly, its revenue is actually down. While this may raise concerns, investors should investigate the reasoning behind this.
In the chart below, you can see how the company has grown earnings and revenue, over time. Click on the chart to see the exact numbers.
While we live in the present moment, there's little doubt that the future matters most in the investment decision process. So why not check this interactive chart depicting future EPS estimates, for Cipher Pharmaceuticals?
Are Cipher Pharmaceuticals Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?
Seeing insiders owning a large portion of the shares on issue is often a good sign. Their incentives will be aligned with the investors and there's less of a probability in a sudden sell-off that would impact the share price. So we're pleased to report that Cipher Pharmaceuticals insiders own a meaningful share of the business. Owning 44% of the company, insiders have plenty riding on the performance of the the share price. Those who are comforted by solid insider ownership like this should be happy, as it implies that those running the business are genuinely motivated to create shareholder value. In terms of absolute value, insiders have US$41m invested in the business, at the current share price. That should be more than enough to keep them focussed on creating shareholder value!
While it's always good to see some strong conviction in the company from insiders through heavy investment, it's also important for shareholders to ask if management compensation policies are reasonable. Well, based on the CEO pay, you'd argue that they are indeed. For companies with market capitalisations under US$200m, like Cipher Pharmaceuticals, the median CEO pay is around US$174k.
The Cipher Pharmaceuticals CEO received total compensation of only US$80k in the year to December 2021. You could consider this pay as somewhat symbolic, which suggests the CEO does not need a lot of compensation to stay motivated. While the level of CEO compensation shouldn't be the biggest factor in how the company is viewed, modest remuneration is a positive, because it suggests that the board keeps shareholder interests in mind. It can also be a sign of a culture of integrity, in a broader sense.
Is Cipher Pharmaceuticals Worth Keeping An Eye On?
Cipher Pharmaceuticals' earnings per share growth have been climbing higher at an appreciable rate. An added bonus for those interested is that management hold a heap of stock and the CEO pay is quite reasonable, illustrating good cash management. The strong EPS improvement suggests the businesses is humming along. Cipher Pharmaceuticals is certainly doing some things right and is well worth investigating. It's still necessary to consider the ever-present spectre of investment risk. We've identified 3 warning signs with Cipher Pharmaceuticals (at least 1 which is a bit concerning) , and understanding these should be part of your investment process.
There's always the possibility of doing well buying stocks that are not growing earnings and do not have insiders buying shares. But for those who consider these important metrics, we encourage you 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.
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