Is Moody’s’s (NYSE:MCO) 173% Share Price Increase Well Justified?

The worst result, after buying shares in a company (assuming no leverage), would be if you lose all the money you put in. But on a lighter note, a good company can see its share price rise well over 100%. For example, the Moody’s Corporation (NYSE:MCO) share price has soared 173% in the last half decade. Most would be very happy with that. On top of that, the share price is up 16% in about a quarter. But this could be related to the strong market, which is up 11% in the last three months.

View our latest analysis for Moody’s

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. By comparing earnings per share (EPS) and share price changes over time, we can get a feel for how investor attitudes to a company have morphed over time.

During five years of share price growth, Moody’s achieved compound earnings per share (EPS) growth of 8.9% per year. This EPS growth is lower than the 22% average annual increase in the share price. This suggests that market participants hold the company in higher regard, these days. 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).

NYSE:MCO Past and Future Earnings, January 16th 2020
NYSE:MCO Past and Future Earnings, January 16th 2020

We know that Moody’s has improved its bottom line lately, but is it going to grow revenue? If you’re interested, you could check this free report showing consensus revenue forecasts.

What About Dividends?

As well as measuring the share price return, investors should also consider the total shareholder return (TSR). Whereas the share price return only reflects the change in the share price, the TSR includes the value of dividends (assuming they were reinvested) and the benefit of any discounted capital raising or spin-off. Arguably, the TSR gives a more comprehensive picture of the return generated by a stock. In the case of Moody’s, it has a TSR of 190% for the last 5 years. That exceeds its share price return that we previously mentioned. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.

A Different Perspective

It’s nice to see that Moody’s shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 64% over the last year. And that does include the dividend. That gain is better than the annual TSR over five years, which is 24%. Therefore it seems like sentiment around the company has been positive lately. Someone with an optimistic perspective could view the recent improvement in TSR as indicating that the business itself is getting better with time. If you would like to research Moody’s in more detail then you might want to take a look at whether insiders have been buying or selling shares in the company.

If you would prefer to check out another company — one with potentially superior financials — then do not miss this free list of companies that have proven they can 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 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.

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. Thank you for reading.