One simple way to benefit from the stock market is to buy an index fund. But if you choose individual stocks with prowess, you can make superior returns. For example, the GWA Group Limited (ASX:GWA) share price is up 50% in the last three years, clearly besting than the market return of around 23% (not including dividends). On the other hand, the returns haven’t been quite so good recently, with shareholders up just 1.5%, including dividends.
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.
GWA Group was able to grow its EPS at 9.0% per year over three years, sending the share price higher. This EPS growth is lower than the 14% average annual increase in the share price. So it’s fair to assume the market has a higher opinion of the business than it did three years ago. That’s not necessarily surprising considering the three-year track record of earnings growth.
You can see below how EPS has changed over time (discover the exact values by clicking on the image).
Dive deeper into GWA Group’s key metrics by checking this interactive graph of GWA Group’s earnings, revenue and cash flow.
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, GWA Group’s TSR for the last 3 years was 78%, 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
GWA Group provided a TSR of 1.5% over the last twelve months. But that return falls short of the market. It’s probably a good sign that the company has an even better long term track record, having provided shareholders with an annual TSR of 7.6% over five years. Maybe the share price is just taking a breather while the business executes on its growth strategy. Most investors take the time to check the data on insider transactions. You can click here to see if insiders have been buying or selling.
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.
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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.