These days it's easy to simply buy an index fund, and your returns should (roughly) match the market. But one can do better than that by picking better than average stocks (as part of a diversified portfolio). To wit, the Costa Group Holdings Limited (ASX:CGC) share price is 59% higher than it was a year ago, much better than the market return of around 38% (not including dividends) in the same period. That's a solid performance by our standards! On the other hand, longer term shareholders have had a tougher run, with the stock falling 38% 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. 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.
During the last year Costa Group Holdings grew its earnings per share, moving from a loss to a profit.
When a company has just transitioned to profitability, earnings per share growth is not always the best way to look at the share price action.
We doubt the modest 2.0% dividend yield is doing much to support the share price. However the year on year revenue growth of 11% would help. We do see some companies suppress earnings in order to accelerate revenue growth.
The company's revenue and earnings (over time) are depicted in the image below (click to see the exact numbers).
It's probably worth noting that the CEO is paid less than the median at similar sized companies. But while CEO remuneration is always worth checking, the really important question is whether the company can grow earnings going forward. This free report showing analyst forecasts should help you form a view on Costa Group Holdings
What About Dividends?
As well as measuring the share price return, investors should also consider the total shareholder return (TSR). The TSR is a return calculation that accounts for the value of cash dividends (assuming that any dividend received was reinvested) and the calculated value of any discounted capital raisings and spin-offs. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. We note that for Costa Group Holdings the TSR over the last year was 62%, 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
It's nice to see that Costa Group Holdings shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 62% over the last year. And that does include the dividend. Since the one-year TSR is better than the five-year TSR (the latter coming in at 12% per year), it would seem that the stock's performance has improved in recent times. Given the share price momentum remains strong, it might be worth taking a closer look at the stock, lest you miss an opportunity. 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.
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 AU 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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