Although Net Income and Earnings-per-Share (EPS) are the most widely used parameter in measuring a companys profitability and valuation, it is the least reliable. The reason is that reported earnings can be manipulated easily by adjusting any numbers such as Depreciation, Depletion and Amotorization and non-recurring items.
EPS is most useful for companies that have:
A predictable business
Consistent accounting methods
And few restructurings
The dividend paid to preferred stocks needs to be subtracted from the total net income in the calculation of EPS because common stock holders are not entitled to that part of the net income.
Warren Buffett looks for consistency and upward long term trend. Because of share repurchase it is possible for net earnings trend to differ from EPS trend. He preferred net income over EPS. The companies with durable competitive advantage companies report higher % net earnings to total revenues.
Important: If a company is showing net earnings history greater than 20% on total revenues, it is probably benefiting from a long term competitive advantage.
If net earnings is less than 10%, likely to be in a highly competitive business
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