When you buy a stock there is always a possibility that it could drop 100%. But on the bright side, if you buy shares in a high quality company at the right price, you can gain well over 100%. One great example is BlueScope Steel Limited (ASX:BSL) which saw its share price drive 125% higher over five years. It’s also good to see the share price up 17% over the last quarter. This could be related to the recent financial results, released recently – you can catch up on the most recent data by reading our company report.
While the efficient markets hypothesis continues to be taught by some, it has been proven that markets are over-reactive dynamic systems, and investors are not always rational. One imperfect but simple way to consider how the market perception of a company has shifted is to compare the change in the earnings per share (EPS) with the share price movement.
During the five years of share price growth, BlueScope Steel moved from a loss to profitability. Sometimes, the start of profitability is a major inflection point that can signal fast earnings growth to come, which in turn justifies very strong share price gains. Given that the company made a profit three years ago, but not five years ago, it is worth looking at the share price returns over the last three years, too. We can see that the BlueScope Steel share price is up 56% in the last three years. In the same period, EPS is up 25% per year. This EPS growth is higher than the 16% average annual increase in the share price over the same three years. So you might conclude the market is a little more cautious about the stock, these days. This unenthusiastic sentiment is reflected in the stock’s reasonably modest P/E ratio of 6.70.
Before buying or selling a stock, we always recommend a close examination of historic growth trends, available here..
What About Dividends?
It is important to consider the total shareholder return, as well as the share price return, for any given stock. The TSR incorporates the value of any spin-offs or discounted capital raisings, along with any dividends, based on the assumption that the dividends are reinvested. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. As it happens, BlueScope Steel’s TSR for the last 5 years was 135%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. And there’s no prize for guessing that the dividend payments largely explain the divergence!
A Different Perspective
While the broader market gained around 12% in the last year, BlueScope Steel shareholders lost 24% (even including dividends). Even the share prices of good stocks drop sometimes, but we want to see improvements in the fundamental metrics of a business, before getting too interested. On the bright side, long term shareholders have made money, with a gain of 19% per year over half a decade. It could be that the recent sell-off is an opportunity, so it may be worth checking the fundamental data for signs of a long term growth trend. Is BlueScope Steel cheap compared to other companies? These 3 valuation measures might help you decide.
If you are like me, then you will not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying.
Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on AU exchanges.
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 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. Thank you for reading.