The simplest way to invest in stocks is to buy exchange traded funds. But you can significantly boost your returns by picking above-average stocks. For example, the Bodycote plc (LON:BOY) share price is up 54% in the last year, clearly besting the market return of around 21% (not including dividends). So that should have shareholders smiling. Zooming out, the stock is actually down 8.5% in the last three years.
While markets are a powerful pricing mechanism, share prices reflect investor sentiment, not just underlying business performance. 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 year, Bodycote actually saw its earnings per share drop 100%. We do note that there were extraordinary items impacting the result.
This means it's unlikely the market is judging the company based on earnings growth. Therefore, it seems likely that investors are putting more weight on metrics other than EPS, at the moment.
Unfortunately Bodycote's fell 17% over twelve months. So using a snapshot of key business metrics doesn't give us a good picture of why the market is bidding up the stock.
The company's revenue and earnings (over time) are depicted in the image below (click to see the exact numbers).
Bodycote is well known by investors, and plenty of clever analysts have tried to predict the future profit levels. Given we have quite a good number of analyst forecasts, it might be well worth checking out this free chart depicting consensus estimates.
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 Bodycote, it has a TSR of 61% for the last year. That exceeds its share price return that we previously mentioned. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!
A Different Perspective
We're pleased to report that Bodycote shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 61% over one year. Of course, that includes the dividend. That's better than the annualised return of 10% 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. 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. For instance, we've identified 3 warning signs for Bodycote that you should be aware of.
Of course Bodycote 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 GB 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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