It hasn't been the best quarter for Neste Oyj (HEL:NESTE) shareholders, since the share price has fallen 11% in that time. But that scarcely detracts from the really solid long term returns generated by the company over five years. It's fair to say most would be happy with 283% the gain in that time. Generally speaking the long term returns will give you a better idea of business quality than short periods can. Of course, that doesn't necessarily mean it's cheap now. Unfortunately not all shareholders will have held it for the long term, so spare a thought for those caught in the 27% decline over the last twelve months.
So let's investigate and see if the longer term performance of the company has been in line with the underlying business' progress.
To paraphrase Benjamin Graham: Over the short term the market is a voting machine, but over the long term it's a weighing machine. 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, Neste Oyj managed to grow its earnings per share at 8.3% a year. This EPS growth is lower than the 31% average annual increase in the share price. This suggests that market participants hold the company in higher regard, these days. And that's hardly shocking given the track record of growth.
The graphic below depicts how EPS has changed over time (unveil 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. Dive deeper into the earnings by checking this interactive graph of Neste Oyj's earnings, revenue and cash flow.
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. It's fair to say that the TSR gives a more complete picture for stocks that pay a dividend. In the case of Neste Oyj, it has a TSR of 335% for the last 5 years. That exceeds its share price return that we previously mentioned. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!
A Different Perspective
While the broader market gained around 16% in the last year, Neste Oyj shareholders lost 25% (even including dividends). Even the share prices of good stocks drop sometimes, but we want to see improvements in the fundamental metrics of a business, before getting too interested. Longer term investors wouldn't be so upset, since they would have made 34%, each year, over five years. If the fundamental data continues to indicate long term sustainable growth, the current sell-off could be an opportunity worth considering. Before forming an opinion on Neste Oyj you might want to consider these 3 valuation metrics.
Of course Neste Oyj may not be the best stock to buy. So you may wish to see this free collection of growth stocks.
Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on FI 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.