Some Strategic Education, Inc. (NASDAQ:STRA) shareholders are probably rather concerned to see the share price fall 42% over the last three months. But that doesn’t change the fact that the returns over the last five years have been very strong. In fact, the share price is 102% higher today. So while it’s never fun to see a share price fall, it’s important to look at a longer time horizon. Ultimately business performance will determine whether the stock price continues the positive long term trend.
While markets are a powerful pricing mechanism, share prices reflect investor sentiment, not just underlying business performance. 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, Strategic Education achieved compound earnings per share (EPS) growth of 6.2% per year. This EPS growth is slower than the share price growth of 15% 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. And that’s hardly shocking given the track record of growth.
You can see below how EPS has changed over time (discover the exact values by clicking on the image).
We know that Strategic Education has improved its bottom line lately, but is it going to grow revenue? This free report showing analyst revenue forecasts should help you figure out if the EPS growth can be sustained.
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. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. As it happens, Strategic Education’s TSR for the last 5 years was 111%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.
A Different Perspective
Investors in Strategic Education had a tough year, with a total loss of 39% (including dividends), against a market gain of about 23%. However, keep in mind that even the best stocks will sometimes underperform the market over a twelve month period. Longer term investors wouldn’t be so upset, since they would have made 16%, each year, over five years. 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. 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 3 warning signs with Strategic Education , and understanding them should be part of your investment process.
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.
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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. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.
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