Some have more dollars than sense, they say, so even companies that have no revenue, no profit, and a record of falling short, can easily find investors. Unfortunately, high risk investments often have little probability of ever paying off, and many investors pay a price to learn their lesson.
In the age of tech-stock blue-sky investing, my choice may seem old fashioned; I still prefer profitable companies like Rent-A-Center (NASDAQ:RCII). While that doesn’t make the shares worth buying at any price, you can’t deny that successful capitalism requires profit, eventually. Conversely, a loss-making company is yet to prove itself with profit, and eventually the sweet milk of external capital may run sour.
Rent-A-Center’s Improving Profits
In business, though not in life, profits are a key measure of success; and share prices tend to reflect earnings per share (EPS). So like the hint of a smile on a face that I love, growing EPS generally makes me look twice. It is therefore awe-striking that Rent-A-Center’s EPS went from US$0.68 to US$3.95 in just one year. When you see earnings grow that quickly, it often means good things ahead for the company.
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. This approach makes Rent-A-Center look pretty good, on balance; although revenue is flattish, EBIT margins improved from 5.0% to 7.5% in the last year. That’s something to smile about.
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.
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 Rent-A-Center EPS 100% free.
Are Rent-A-Center Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?
Like standing at the lookout, surveying the horizon at sunrise, insider buying, for some investors, sparks joy. This view is based on the possibility that stock purchases signal bullishness on behalf of the buyer. However, small purchases are not always indicative of conviction, and insiders don’t always get it right.
It’s a pleasure to note that insiders spent US$817k buying Rent-A-Center shares, over the last year, without reporting any share sales whatsoever. As if for a flower bud approaching bloom, I become an expectant observer, anticipating with hope, that something splendid is coming. Zooming in, we can see that the biggest insider purchase was by Independent Chairman Jeffrey Brown for US$460k worth of shares, at about US$23.01 per share.
Is Rent-A-Center Worth Keeping An Eye On?
Rent-A-Center’s earnings per share growth have been levitating higher, like a mountain goat scaling the Alps. If you’re like me, you’ll find it hard to ignore that sort of explosive EPS growth. And in fact, it could well signal a fundamental shift in the business economics. For me, this situation certainly piques my interest. Before you take the next step you should know about the 4 warning signs for Rent-A-Center that we have uncovered.
As a growth investor I do like to see insider buying. But Rent-A-Center isn’t the only one. You can see a a free list of them here.
Please note the insider transactions discussed in this article refer to reportable transactions in the relevant jurisdiction.
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. 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.