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, the Lok'nStore Group Plc (LON:LOK) share price is up 62% in the last 5 years, clearly besting the market return of around 6.6% (ignoring dividends).
To paraphrase Benjamin Graham: Over the short term the market is a voting machine, but over the long term it's a weighing machine. 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.
Over half a decade, Lok'nStore Group managed to grow its earnings per share at 5.5% a year. This EPS growth is lower than the 10% average annual increase in the share price. So it's fair to assume the market has a higher opinion of the business than it did five years ago. And that's hardly shocking given the track record of growth. This favorable sentiment is reflected in its (fairly optimistic) P/E ratio of 54.08.
The image below shows how EPS has tracked over time (if you click on the image you can see greater detail).
We like that insiders have been buying shares in the last twelve months. Having said that, most people consider earnings and revenue growth trends to be a more meaningful guide to the business. Before buying or selling a stock, we always recommend a close examination of historic growth trends, available here..
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 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. It's fair to say that the TSR gives a more complete picture for stocks that pay a dividend. As it happens, Lok'nStore Group's TSR for the last 5 years was 82%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!
A Different Perspective
While the broader market lost about 4.2% in the twelve months, Lok'nStore Group shareholders did even worse, losing 13% (even including dividends). 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. Longer term investors wouldn't be so upset, since they would have made 13%, each year, over five years. It could be that the recent sell-off is an opportunity, so it may be worth checking the fundamental data for signs of a long term growth trend. 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. Case in point: We've spotted 2 warning signs for Lok'nStore Group you should be aware of.
Lok'nStore Group is not the only stock insiders are buying. So take a peek at this free list of growing companies with insider buying.
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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