Investors are often guided by the idea of discovering 'the next big thing', even if that means buying 'story stocks' without any revenue, let alone profit. Unfortunately, these high risk investments often have little probability of ever paying off, and many investors pay a price to learn their lesson. Loss making companies can act like a sponge for capital - so investors should be cautious that they're not throwing good money after bad.
If this kind of company isn't your style, you like companies that generate revenue, and even earn profits, then you may well be interested in W.W. Grainger (NYSE:GWW). 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.
Check out our latest analysis for W.W. Grainger
W.W. Grainger'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) outcomes. That makes EPS growth an attractive quality for any company. It certainly is nice to see that W.W. Grainger has managed to grow EPS by 18% per year over three years. As a general rule, we'd say that if a company can keep up that sort of growth, shareholders will be beaming.
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. The music to the ears of W.W. Grainger shareholders is that EBIT margins have grown from 11% to 14% in the last 12 months and revenues are on an upwards trend as well. Both of which are great metrics to check off for potential growth.
In the chart below, you can see how the company has grown earnings and revenue, over time. For finer detail, click on the image.NYSE:GWW Earnings and Revenue History November 30th 2022
In investing, as in life, the future matters more than the past. So why not check out this free interactive visualization of W.W. Grainger's forecast profits?
Are W.W. Grainger Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?
Owing to the size of W.W. Grainger, we wouldn't expect insiders to hold a significant proportion of the company. But we do take comfort from the fact that they are investors in the company. Notably, they have an enviable stake in the company, worth US$3.3b. Investors will appreciate management having this amount of skin in the game as it shows their commitment to the company's future.
It's good to see that insiders are invested in the company, but are remuneration levels reasonable? Well, based on the CEO pay, you'd argue that they are indeed. The median total compensation for CEOs of companies similar in size to W.W. Grainger, with market caps over US$8.0b, is around US$13m.
W.W. Grainger offered total compensation worth US$9.0m to its CEO in the year to December 2021. That seems pretty reasonable, especially given it's 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 good governance, more generally.
Should You Add W.W. Grainger To Your Watchlist?
For growth investors, W.W. Grainger's raw rate of earnings growth is a beacon in the night. If you still have your doubts, remember too that company insiders have a considerable investment aligning themselves with the shareholders and CEO pay is quite modest compared to similarly sized companiess. Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to investing but it definitely makes W.W. Grainger look rather interesting indeed. It is worth noting though that we have found 1 warning sign for W.W. Grainger that you need to take into consideration.
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.