When we invest, we’re generally looking for stocks that outperform the market average. And while active stock picking involves risks (and requires diversification) it can also provide excess returns. For example, long term Becton, Dickinson and Company (NYSE:BDX) shareholders have enjoyed a 86% share price rise over the last half decade, well in excess of the market return of around 28% (not including dividends). On the other hand, the more recent gains haven’t been so impressive, with shareholders gaining just 15% , including dividends .
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 flawed but reasonable way to assess how sentiment around a company has changed is to compare the earnings per share (EPS) with the share price.
Becton Dickinson’s earnings per share are down 14% per year, despite strong share price performance over five years.
Essentially, it doesn’t seem likely that investors are focused on EPS. Since the change in EPS doesn’t seem to correlate with the change in share price, it’s worth taking a look at other metrics.
The modest 1.2% dividend yield is unlikely to be propping up the share price. On the other hand, Becton Dickinson’s revenue is growing nicely, at a compound rate of 14% over the last five years. In that case, the company may be sacrificing current earnings per share to drive growth.
You can see below how earnings and revenue have changed over time (discover 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. So it makes a lot of sense to check out what analysts think Becton Dickinson will earn in the future (free profit forecasts).
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 incorporates the value of any spin-offs or discounted capital raisings, along with any dividends, based on the assumption that the dividends are reinvested. Arguably, the TSR gives a more comprehensive picture of the return generated by a stock. In the case of Becton Dickinson, it has a TSR of 100% for the last 5 years. That exceeds its share price return that we previously mentioned. And there’s no prize for guessing that the dividend payments largely explain the divergence!
A Different Perspective
It’s good to see that Becton Dickinson has rewarded shareholders with a total shareholder return of 15% in the last twelve months. That’s including the dividend. However, that falls short of the 15% TSR per annum it has made for shareholders, each year, over five years. 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. Case in point: We’ve spotted 2 warning signs for Becton Dickinson you should be aware of, and 1 of them is potentially serious.
Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking elsewhere. So take a peek at this free list of companies we expect will grow earnings.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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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