While it may not be enough for some shareholders, we think it is good to see the Autoliv, Inc. (NYSE:ALV) share price up 13% in a single quarter. But that doesn't help the fact that the three year return is less impressive. Truth be told the share price declined 29% in three years and that return, Dear Reader, falls short of what you could have got from passive investing with an index fund.
There is no denying that markets are sometimes efficient, but prices do not always reflect 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 three years that the share price fell, Autoliv's earnings per share (EPS) dropped by 24% each year. This fall in the EPS is worse than the 11% compound annual share price fall. This suggests that the market retains some optimism around long term earnings stability, despite past EPS declines.
We're pleased to report that the CEO is remunerated more modestly than most CEOs at similarly capitalized companies. But while CEO remuneration is always worth checking, the really important question is whether the company can grow earnings going forward. It might be well worthwhile taking a look at our free report on Autoliv's earnings, revenue and cash flow.
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, Autoliv's TSR for the last 3 years was 6.5%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. And there's no prize for guessing that the dividend payments largely explain the divergence!
A Different Perspective
Autoliv shareholders are down 9.6% for the year (even including dividends), but the market itself is up 4.0%. However, keep in mind that even the best stocks will sometimes underperform the market over a twelve month period. On the bright side, long term shareholders have made money, with a gain of 3.1% per year over half a decade. If the fundamental data continues to indicate long term sustainable growth, the current sell-off could be an opportunity worth considering. Keeping this in mind, a solid next step might be to take a look at Autoliv's dividend track record. This free interactive graph is a great place to start.
But note: Autoliv may not be the best stock to buy. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with past earnings growth (and further growth forecast).
Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on US 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.