Computershare (ASX:CPU) shareholders notch a 14% CAGR over 5 years, yet earnings have been shrinking

By
Simply Wall St
Published
March 17, 2022
ASX:CPU
Source: Shutterstock

Generally speaking the aim of active stock picking is to find companies that provide returns that are superior to the market average. And in our experience, buying the right stocks can give your wealth a significant boost. For example, long term Computershare Limited (ASX:CPU) shareholders have enjoyed a 67% share price rise over the last half decade, well in excess of the market return of around 26% (not including dividends). On the other hand, the more recent gains haven't been so impressive, with shareholders gaining just 56% , including dividends .

Since it's been a strong week for Computershare shareholders, let's have a look at trend of the longer term fundamentals.

View our latest analysis for Computershare

There is no denying that markets are sometimes efficient, but prices do not always reflect underlying business performance. 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.

Computershare's earnings per share are down 3.3% per year, despite strong share price performance over five years.

By glancing at these numbers, we'd posit that the decline in earnings per share is not representative of how the business has changed over the years. Since the change in EPS doesn't seem to correlate with the change in share price, it's worth taking a look at other metrics.

The revenue growth of 1.7% per year hardly seems impressive. So it seems one might have to take closer look at earnings and revenue trends to see how they might influence the share price.

You can see below how earnings and revenue have changed over time (discover the exact values by clicking on the image).

earnings-and-revenue-growth
ASX:CPU Earnings and Revenue Growth March 17th 2022

It's good to see that there was some significant insider buying in the last three months. That's a positive. That said, we think earnings and revenue growth trends are even more important factors to consider. You can see what analysts are predicting for Computershare in this interactive graph of future profit estimates.

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. As it happens, Computershare's TSR for the last 5 years was 91%, 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

It's good to see that Computershare has rewarded shareholders with a total shareholder return of 56% in the last twelve months. That's including the dividend. Since the one-year TSR is better than the five-year TSR (the latter coming in at 14% per year), it would seem that the stock's performance has improved in recent times. In the best case scenario, this may hint at some real business momentum, implying that now could be a great time to delve deeper. 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. Like risks, for instance. Every company has them, and we've spotted 2 warning signs for Computershare (of which 1 is potentially serious!) you should know about.

There are plenty of other companies that have insiders buying up shares. You probably do 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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