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. To wit, the TransAlta Renewables share price has climbed 72% in five years, easily topping the market return of 23% (ignoring dividends). However, more recent returns haven't been as impressive as that, with the stock returning just 23% in the last year , including dividends .
While markets are a powerful pricing mechanism, share prices reflect investor sentiment, not just 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.
During five years of share price growth, TransAlta Renewables actually saw its EPS drop 15% per year.
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.
In fact, the dividend has increased over time, which is a positive. It could be that the company is reaching maturity and dividend investors are buying for the yield. We'd posit that the revenue growth over the last five years, of 15% per year, would encourage people to invest.
You can see below how earnings and revenue have changed over time (discover the exact values by clicking on the image).
It's probably worth noting that the CEO is paid less than the median at similar sized companies. It's always worth keeping an eye on CEO pay, but a more important question is whether the company will grow earnings throughout the years. If you are thinking of buying or selling TransAlta Renewables stock, you should check out this free report showing analyst profit forecasts.
What About Dividends?
It is important to consider the total shareholder return, as well as the share price return, for any given stock. 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. In the case of TransAlta Renewables, it has a TSR of 143% 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 TransAlta Renewables shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 23% over one year. That's including the dividend. That's better than the annualised return of 19% over half a decade, implying that the company is doing better recently. Someone with an optimistic perspective could view the recent improvement in TSR as indicating that the business itself is getting better with time. While it is well worth considering the different impacts that market conditions can have on the share price, there are other factors that are even more important. To that end, you should learn about the 3 warning signs we've spotted with TransAlta Renewables (including 1 which is is a bit concerning) .
We will like TransAlta Renewables better if we see some big insider buys. While we wait, check out this free list of growing companies with considerable, recent, insider buying.
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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