Costco Wholesale's (NASDAQ:COST) five-year total shareholder returns outpace the underlying earnings growth

By
Simply Wall St
Published
January 21, 2022
NasdaqGS:COST
Source: Shutterstock

It might be of some concern to shareholders to see the Costco Wholesale Corporation (NASDAQ:COST) share price down 11% in the last month. But in stark contrast, the returns over the last half decade have impressed. In fact, the share price is 194% higher today. So while it's never fun to see a share price fall, it's important to look at a longer time horizon. Ultimately business performance will determine whether the stock price continues the positive long term trend.

Since the long term performance has been good but there's been a recent pullback of 6.6%, let's check if the fundamentals match the share price.

See our latest analysis for Costco Wholesale

While the efficient markets hypothesis continues to be taught by some, it has been proven that markets are over-reactive dynamic systems, and investors are not always rational. One imperfect but simple way to consider how the market perception of a company has shifted is to compare the change in the earnings per share (EPS) with the share price movement.

Over half a decade, Costco Wholesale managed to grow its earnings per share at 16% a year. This EPS growth is lower than the 24% average annual increase in the share price. 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.

The graphic below depicts how EPS has changed over time (unveil the exact values by clicking on the image).

earnings-per-share-growth
NasdaqGS:COST Earnings Per Share Growth January 21st 2022

It's good to see that there was some significant insider buying in the last three months. That's a positive. That said, we think earnings and revenue growth trends are even more important factors to consider. Before buying or selling a stock, we always recommend a close examination of historic growth trends, available here..

What About Dividends?

When looking at investment returns, it is important to consider the difference between total shareholder return (TSR) and share price return. The TSR incorporates the value of any spin-offs or discounted capital raisings, along with any dividends, based on the assumption that the dividends are reinvested. Arguably, the TSR gives a more comprehensive picture of the return generated by a stock. In the case of Costco Wholesale, it has a TSR of 230% for the last 5 years. That exceeds its share price return that we previously mentioned. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.

A Different Perspective

It's good to see that Costco Wholesale has rewarded shareholders with a total shareholder return of 34% in the last twelve months. That's including the dividend. That's better than the annualised return of 27% over half a decade, implying that the company is doing better recently. In the best case scenario, this may hint at some real business momentum, implying that now could be a great time to delve deeper. While it is well worth considering the different impacts that market conditions can have on the share price, there are other factors that are even more important. Consider for instance, the ever-present spectre of investment risk. We've identified 1 warning sign with Costco Wholesale , and understanding them should be part of your investment process.

Costco Wholesale is not the only stock insiders are buying. So take a peek at this free list of growing companies with insider buying.

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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