The most you can lose on any stock (assuming you don’t use leverage) is 100% of your money. But on the bright side, you can make far more than 100% on a really good stock. For example, the MKS Instruments, Inc. (NASDAQ:MKSI) share price has soared 238% in the last half decade. Most would be very happy with that. On top of that, the share price is up 22% in about a quarter. But this could be related to the strong market, which is up 11% in the last three months.
In his essay The Superinvestors of Graham-and-Doddsville Warren Buffett described how share prices do not always rationally reflect the value of a business. One way to examine how market sentiment has changed over time is to look at the interaction between a company’s share price and its earnings per share (EPS).
During five years of share price growth, MKS Instruments achieved compound earnings per share (EPS) growth of 10% per year. This EPS growth is slower than the share price growth of 28% per year, over the same period. So it’s fair to assume the market has a higher opinion of the business than it did five years ago. That’s not necessarily surprising considering the five-year track record of earnings growth.
The graphic below depicts how EPS has changed over time (unveil the exact values by clicking on the image).
We’re pleased to report that the CEO is remunerated more modestly than most CEOs at similarly capitalized companies. But while CEO remuneration is always worth checking, the really important question is whether the company can grow earnings going forward. Before buying or selling a stock, we always recommend a close examination of historic growth trends, available here..
What About Dividends?
When looking at investment returns, it is important to consider the difference between total shareholder return (TSR) and share price return. The TSR is a return calculation that accounts for the value of cash dividends (assuming that any dividend received was reinvested) and the calculated value of any discounted capital raisings and spin-offs. Arguably, the TSR gives a more comprehensive picture of the return generated by a stock. We note that for MKS Instruments the TSR over the last 5 years was 260%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!
A Different Perspective
We’re pleased to report that MKS Instruments shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 61% over one year. Of course, that includes the dividend. Since the one-year TSR is better than the five-year TSR (the latter coming in at 29% per year), it would seem that the stock’s performance has improved in recent times. Given the share price momentum remains strong, it might be worth taking a closer look at the stock, lest you miss an opportunity. I find it very interesting to look at share price over the long term as a proxy for business performance. But to truly gain insight, we need to consider other information, too. Consider for instance, the ever-present spectre of investment risk. We’ve identified 2 warning signs with MKS Instruments , and understanding them should be part of your investment process.
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Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on US exchanges.
If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at email@example.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.
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