Stock pickers are generally looking for stocks that will outperform the broader market. And the truth is, you can make significant gains if you buy good quality businesses at the right price. For example, long term Sul América S.A. (BVMF:SULA11) shareholders have enjoyed a 58% share price rise over the last half decade, well in excess of the market return of around 41% (not including dividends).
Although Sul América has shed R$352m from its market cap this week, let's take a look at its longer term fundamental trends and see if they've driven returns.
While markets are a powerful pricing mechanism, share prices reflect investor sentiment, not just underlying business performance. One way to examine how market sentiment has changed over time is to look at the interaction between a company's share price and its earnings per share (EPS).
Sul América's earnings per share are down 9.0% per year, despite strong share price performance over five years.
This means it's unlikely the market is judging the company based on earnings growth. Because earnings per share don't seem to match up with the share price, we'll take a look at other metrics instead.
We are not particularly impressed by the annual compound revenue growth of 2.5% over five years. So why is the share price up? It's not immediately obvious to us, but a closer look at the company's progress over time might yield answers.
You can see below how earnings and revenue have changed over time (discover 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 the Total Shareholder Return (TSR)?
Investors should note that there's a difference between Sul América's total shareholder return (TSR) and its share price change, which we've covered above. The TSR attempts to capture the value of dividends (as if they were reinvested) as well as any spin-offs or discounted capital raisings offered to shareholders. Sul América's TSR of 78% for the 5 years exceeded its share price return, because it has paid dividends.
A Different Perspective
We regret to report that Sul América shareholders are down 28% for the year. Unfortunately, that's worse than the broader market decline of 4.6%. Having said that, it's inevitable that some stocks will be oversold in a falling market. The key is to keep your eyes on the fundamental developments. On the bright side, long term shareholders have made money, with a gain of 12% per year over half a decade. If the fundamental data continues to indicate long term sustainable growth, the current sell-off could be an opportunity worth considering. 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. Take risks, for example - Sul América has 2 warning signs we think you should be aware of.
For those who like to find winning investments this free list of growing companies with recent insider purchasing, could be just the ticket.
Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on BR exchanges.
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This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. 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.