It might seem bad, but the worst that can happen when you buy a stock (without leverage) is that its share price goes to zero. But in contrast you can make much more than 100% if the company does well. For instance the Fincantieri S.p.A. (BIT:FCT) share price is 117% higher than it was three years ago. That sort of return is as solid as granite. Meanwhile the share price is 2.0% higher than it was a week ago.
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 three years of share price growth, Fincantieri moved from a loss to profitability. Given the importance of this milestone, it's not overly surprising that the share price has increased strongly.
The graphic below depicts how EPS has changed over time (unveil the exact values by clicking on the image).
It is of course excellent to see how Fincantieri has grown profits over the years, but the future is more important for shareholders. It might be well worthwhile taking a look at our free report on how its financial position has changed over time.
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. As it happens, Fincantieri's TSR for the last 3 years was 121%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!
A Different Perspective
While the broader market gained around 16% in the last year, Fincantieri shareholders lost 29% (even including dividends) . However, keep in mind that even the best stocks will sometimes underperform the market over a twelve month period. Longer term investors wouldn't be so upset, since they would have made 8.0%, 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. Before deciding if you like the current share price, check how Fincantieri scores on these 3 valuation metrics.
Of course Fincantieri 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 IT exchanges.
We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.
If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.