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 completely lacks a track record of revenue and profit. Unfortunately, high risk investments often have little probability of ever paying off, and many investors pay a price to learn their lesson.
If, on the other hand, you like companies that have revenue, and even earn profits, then you may well be interested in Gartner (NYSE:IT). While profit is not necessarily a social good, it's easy to admire a business that can consistently produce it. While a well funded company may sustain losses for years, unless its owners have an endless appetite for subsidizing the customer, it will need to generate a profit eventually, or else breathe its last breath.
Gartner's Improving Profits
Over the last three years, Gartner has grown earnings per share (EPS) like young bamboo after rain; fast, and from a low base. So I don't think the percent growth rate is particularly meaningful. Thus, it makes sense to focus on more recent growth rates, instead. It's good to see that Gartner's EPS have grown from US$2.60 to US$2.99 over twelve months. I doubt many would complain about that 15% gain.
Careful consideration of revenue growth and earnings before interest and taxation (EBIT) margins can help inform a view on the sustainability of the recent profit growth. Unfortunately, Gartner's revenue dropped 3.4% last year, but the silver lining is that EBIT margins improved from 8.9% to 12%. That's not ideal.
The chart below shows how the company's bottom and top lines have progressed over time. To see the actual numbers, click on the chart.
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 Gartner EPS 100% free.
Are Gartner Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?
We would not expect to see insiders owning a large percentage of a US$17b company like Gartner. But we are reassured by the fact they have invested in the company. Notably, they have an enormous stake in the company, worth US$526m. This suggests to me that leadership will be very mindful of shareholders' interests when making decisions!
Does Gartner Deserve A Spot On Your Watchlist?
As I already mentioned, Gartner is a growing business, which is what I like to see. If that's not enough on its own, there is also the rather notable levels of insider ownership. The combination sparks joy for me, so I'd consider keeping the company on a watchlist. We should say that we've discovered 2 warning signs for Gartner that you should be aware of before investing here.
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.
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