The worst result, after buying shares in a company (assuming no leverage), would be if you lose all the money you put in. But on the bright side, if you buy shares in a high quality company at the right price, you can gain well over 100%. One great example is Dover Corporation (NYSE:DOV) which saw its share price drive 118% higher over five years. It's also good to see the share price up 13% over the last quarter. But this move may well have been assisted by the reasonably buoyant market (up 5.8% in 90 days).
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.
Over half a decade, Dover managed to grow its earnings per share at 4.6% a year. This EPS growth is slower than the share price growth of 17% per year, over the same period. 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.
You can see below how EPS has changed over time (discover the exact values by clicking on the image).
Dive deeper into Dover's key metrics by checking this interactive graph of Dover'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. Whereas the share price return only reflects the change in the share price, the TSR includes the value of dividends (assuming they were reinvested) and the benefit of any discounted capital raising or spin-off. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. We note that for Dover the TSR over the last 5 years was 202%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. And there's no prize for guessing that the dividend payments largely explain the divergence!
A Different Perspective
Dover shareholders have received returns of 74% over twelve months (even including dividends), which isn't far from the general market return. Most would be happy with a gain, and it helps that the year's return is actually better than the average return over five years, which was 25%. Even if the share price growth slows down from here, there's a good chance that this is business worth watching in the long term. 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. Consider for instance, the ever-present spectre of investment risk. We've identified 2 warning signs with Dover , and understanding them should be part of your investment process.
But note: Dover 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.
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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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