Generally speaking the aim of active stock picking is to find companies that provide returns that are superior to the market average. And the truth is, you can make significant gains if you buy good quality businesses at the right price. For example, the Bapcor Limited (ASX:BAP) share price is up 80% in the last 5 years, clearly besting the market return of around 9.0% (ignoring dividends). However, more recent returns haven't been as impressive as that, with the stock returning just 4.3% in the last year , including dividends .
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. 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.
Over half a decade, Bapcor managed to grow its earnings per share at 37% a year. This EPS growth is higher than the 12% average annual increase in the share price. Therefore, it seems the market has become relatively pessimistic about the company.
The graphic below depicts how EPS has changed over time (unveil the exact values by clicking on the image).
Dive deeper into Bapcor's key metrics by checking this interactive graph of Bapcor's earnings, revenue and cash flow.
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. Arguably, the TSR gives a more comprehensive picture of the return generated by a stock. We note that for Bapcor the TSR over the last 5 years was 103%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.
A Different Perspective
We're pleased to report that Bapcor shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 4.3% over one year. And that does include the dividend. However, the TSR over five years, coming in at 15% per year, is even more impressive. The pessimistic view would be that be that the stock has its best days behind it, but on the other hand the price might simply be moderating while the business itself continues to execute. 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 risks, for instance. Every company has them, and we've spotted 3 warning signs for Bapcor you should know about.
If you like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).
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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