Unfortunately, investing is risky - companies can and do go bankrupt. But when you pick a company that is really flourishing, you can make more than 100%. Take, for example Covanta Holding Corporation (NYSE:CVA). Its share price is already up an impressive 100% in the last twelve months. On top of that, the share price is up 38% in about a quarter. However, the longer term returns haven't been so impressive, with the stock up just 11% in the last three years.
While Covanta Holding made a small profit, in the last year, we think that the market is probably more focussed on the top line growth at the moment. Generally speaking, we'd consider a stock like this alongside loss-making companies, simply because the quantum of the profit is so low. For shareholders to have confidence a company will grow profits significantly, it must grow revenue.
Over the last twelve months, Covanta Holding's revenue grew by 2.6%. That's not great considering the company is losing money. So we wouldn't have expected the share price to rise by 100%. We're happy that investors have made money, though we wonder if the increase will be sustained. It's quite likely that the market is considering other factors, not just revenue growth.
You can see below how earnings and revenue have changed over time (discover the exact values by clicking on the image).
We're pleased to report that the CEO is remunerated more modestly than most CEOs at similarly capitalized companies. It's always worth keeping an eye on CEO pay, but a more important question is whether the company will grow earnings throughout the years. If you are thinking of buying or selling Covanta Holding stock, you should check out this free report showing analyst profit forecasts.
What About Dividends?
As well as measuring the share price return, investors should also consider the total shareholder return (TSR). 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. Arguably, the TSR gives a more comprehensive picture of the return generated by a stock. As it happens, Covanta Holding's TSR for the last year was 106%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!
A Different Perspective
We're pleased to report that Covanta Holding shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 106% over one year. And that does include the dividend. That gain is better than the annual TSR over five years, which is 8%. Therefore it seems like sentiment around the company has been positive lately. In the best case scenario, this may hint at some real business momentum, implying that now could be a great time to delve deeper. It's always interesting to track share price performance over the longer term. But to understand Covanta Holding better, we need to consider many other factors. Case in point: We've spotted 3 warning signs for Covanta Holding you should be aware of, and 2 of them are a bit unpleasant.
Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking elsewhere. So take a peek at this free list of companies we expect will 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.
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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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