Does West Fraser Timber's (TSE:WFT) Share Price Gain of 35% Match Its Business Performance?

By
Simply Wall St
Published
November 13, 2020
TSX:WFT

When we invest, we're generally looking for stocks that outperform the market average. Buying under-rated businesses is one path to excess returns. For example, long term West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd. (TSE:WFT) shareholders have enjoyed a 35% share price rise over the last half decade, well in excess of the market return of around 19% (not including dividends). On the other hand, the more recent gains haven't been so impressive, with shareholders gaining just 20% , including dividends .

See our latest analysis for West Fraser Timber

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. By comparing earnings per share (EPS) and share price changes over time, we can get a feel for how investor attitudes to a company have morphed over time.

During the last half decade, West Fraser Timber became profitable. That's generally thought to be a genuine positive, so we would expect to see an increasing share price.

You can see below how EPS has changed over time (discover the exact values by clicking on the image).

earnings-per-share-growth
TSX:WFT Earnings Per Share Growth November 13th 2020

We consider it positive that insiders have made significant purchases in the last year. Even so, future earnings will be far more important to whether current shareholders make money. This free interactive report on West Fraser Timber's earnings, revenue and cash flow is a great place to start, if you want to investigate the stock further.

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. In the case of West Fraser Timber, it has a TSR of 42% for the last 5 years. That exceeds its share price return that we previously mentioned. And there's no prize for guessing that the dividend payments largely explain the divergence!

A Different Perspective

We're pleased to report that West Fraser Timber shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 20% over one year. Of course, that includes the dividend. That's better than the annualised return of 7% over half a decade, implying that the company is doing better recently. In the best case scenario, this may hint at some real business momentum, implying that now could be a great time to delve deeper. It's always interesting to track share price performance over the longer term. But to understand West Fraser Timber better, we need to consider many other factors. For instance, we've identified 1 warning sign for West Fraser Timber that you should be aware of.

West Fraser Timber is not the only stock that insiders are buying. 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 CA 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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