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Do GlaxoSmithKline's (LON:GSK) Earnings Warrant Your Attention?

Simply Wall St

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. And in their study titled Who Falls Prey to the Wolf of Wall Street?' Leuz et. al. found that it is 'quite common' for investors to lose money by buying into 'pump and dump' schemes.

In contrast to all that, I prefer to spend time on companies like GlaxoSmithKline ( LON:GSK ), which has not only revenues, but also profits. While profit is not necessarily a social good, it's easy to admire a business than can consistently produce it. In comparison, loss making companies act like a sponge for capital - but unlike such a sponge they do not always produce something when squeezed.

See our latest analysis for GlaxoSmithKline

GlaxoSmithKline's Improving Profits

Over the last three years, GlaxoSmithKline 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. As a result, I'll zoom in on growth over the last year, instead. Like a firecracker arcing through the night sky, GlaxoSmithKline's EPS shot from UK£0.34 to UK£0.90, over the last year. Year on year growth of 166% is certainly a sight to behold.

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. While we note GlaxoSmithKline's EBIT margins were flat over the last year, revenue grew by a solid 5.8% to UK£32b. That's progress.

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.

LSE:GSK Income Statement, August 25th 2019

You don't drive with your eyes on the rear-view mirror, so you might be more interested in this free report showing analyst forecasts for GlaxoSmithKline's future profits .

Are GlaxoSmithKline Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?

We would not expect to see insiders owning a large percentage of a UK£84b company like GlaxoSmithKline. But we are reassured by the fact they have invested in the company. Indeed, they hold UK£26m worth of its stock. That shows significant buy-in, and may indicate conviction in the business strategy. Even though that's only about 0.03% of the company, it's enough money to indicate alignment between the leaders of the business and ordinary shareholders.

Does GlaxoSmithKline Deserve A Spot On Your Watchlist?

GlaxoSmithKline's earnings per share have taken off like a rocket aimed right at the moon. That sort of growth is nothing short of eye-catching, and the large investment held by insiders certainly brightens my view of the company. At times fast EPS growth is a sign the business has reached an inflection point; and I do like those. So yes, on this short analysis I do think it's worth considering GlaxoSmithKline for a spot on your watchlist. Of course, identifying quality businesses is only half the battle; investors need to know whether the stock is undervalued. So you might want to consider this free discounted cashflow valuation of GlaxoSmithKline.

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

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.