The most you can lose on any stock (assuming you don't use leverage) is 100% of your money. But in contrast you can make much more than 100% if the company does well. To wit, the Avast Plc (LON:AVST) share price has flown 111% in the last three years. How nice for those who held the stock! In the last week the share price is up 1.8%.
In his essay The Superinvestors of Graham-and-Doddsville Warren Buffett described how share prices do not always rationally reflect the value of a business. One imperfect but simple way to consider how the market perception of a company has shifted is to compare the change in the earnings per share (EPS) with the share price movement.
During three years of share price growth, Avast moved from a loss to profitability. That kind of transition can be an inflection point that justifies a strong share price gain, just as we have seen here.
You can see below how EPS has changed over time (discover the exact values by clicking on the image).
This free interactive report on Avast'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. As it happens, Avast's TSR for the last 3 years was 127%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!
A Different Perspective
Over the last year, Avast shareholders took a loss of 8.3%, including dividends. In contrast the market gained about 28%. Of course the long term matters more than the short term, and even great stocks will sometimes have a poor year. Fortunately the longer term story is brighter, with total returns averaging about 31% per year over three years. Sometimes when a good quality long term winner has a weak period, it's turns out to be an opportunity, but you really need to be sure that the quality is there. It's always interesting to track share price performance over the longer term. But to understand Avast better, we need to consider many other factors. Consider for instance, the ever-present spectre of investment risk. We've identified 4 warning signs with Avast , and understanding them should be part of your investment process.
If you like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).
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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