For many, the main point of investing in the stock market is to achieve spectacular returns. And we've seen some truly amazing gains over the years. For example, the Exponent, Inc. (NASDAQ:EXPO) share price is up a whopping 303% in the last half decade, a handsome return for long term holders. And this is just one example of the epic gains achieved by some long term investors. In the last week the share price is up 2.1%.
There is no denying that markets are sometimes efficient, but prices do not always reflect underlying business performance. One way to examine how market sentiment has changed over time is to look at the interaction between a company's share price and its earnings per share (EPS).
During five years of share price growth, Exponent achieved compound earnings per share (EPS) growth of 14% per year. This EPS growth is slower than the share price growth of 32% per year, over the same period. This suggests that market participants hold the company in higher regard, these days. That's not necessarily surprising considering the five-year track record of earnings growth. This favorable sentiment is reflected in its (fairly optimistic) P/E ratio of 64.06.
The company's earnings per share (over time) is depicted in the image below (click to see the exact numbers).
It's probably worth noting that the CEO is paid less than the median at similar sized 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 Exponent'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. We note that for Exponent the TSR over the last 5 years was 326%, 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
Exponent shareholders are up 44% for the year (even including dividends). Unfortunately this falls short of the market return. On the bright side, that's still a gain, and it's actually better than the average return of 34% over half a decade It is possible that returns will improve along with the business fundamentals. 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. Even so, be aware that Exponent is showing 1 warning sign in our investment analysis , you should know about...
If you would prefer to check out another company -- one with potentially superior financials -- then do not miss this free list of companies that have proven they can grow earnings.
Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on US exchanges.
If you’re looking to trade Exponent, open an account with the lowest-cost* platform trusted by professionals, Interactive Brokers. Their clients from over 200 countries and territories trade stocks, options, futures, forex, bonds and funds worldwide from a single integrated account.
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.
*Interactive Brokers Rated Lowest Cost Broker by StockBrokers.com Annual Online Review 2020
Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.