We believe investing is smart because history shows that stock markets go higher in the long term. But not every stock you buy will perform as well as the overall market. Over the last year the Flowers Foods, Inc. (NYSE:FLO) share price is up 13%, but that’s less than the broader market return. Having said that, the longer term returns aren’t so impressive, with stock gaining just 8.5% in three years.
To paraphrase Benjamin Graham: Over the short term the market is a voting machine, but over the long term it’s a weighing machine. 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 the last year, Flowers Foods actually saw its earnings per share drop 15%.
Given the share price gain, we doubt the market is measuring progress with EPS. Therefore, it seems likely that investors are putting more weight on metrics other than EPS, at the moment.
However the year on year revenue growth of 3.6% would help. Many businesses do go through a phase where they have to forgo some profits to drive business development, and sometimes its for the best.
The graphic below depicts how earnings and revenue have changed over time (unveil the exact values by clicking on the image).
You can see how its balance sheet has strengthened (or weakened) over time in this free interactive graphic.
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. We note that for Flowers Foods the TSR over the last year was 16%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. And there’s no prize for guessing that the dividend payments largely explain the divergence!
A Different Perspective
Flowers Foods provided a TSR of 16% over the last twelve months. But that return falls short of the market. The silver lining is that the gain was actually better than the average annual return of 5.6% per year over five year. This could indicate that the company is winning over new investors, as it pursues its strategy. While it is well worth considering the different impacts that market conditions can have on the share price, there are other factors that are even more important. For instance, we’ve identified 1 warning sign for Flowers Foods that you should be aware of.
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 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.
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.