Costco Wholesale's (NASDAQ:COST) investors will be pleased with their splendid 211% return over the last five years

By
Simply Wall St
Published
May 14, 2022
NasdaqGS:COST
Source: Shutterstock

Costco Wholesale Corporation (NASDAQ:COST) shareholders have seen the share price descend 16% over the month. But that doesn't change the fact that shareholders have received really good returns over the last five years. It's fair to say most would be happy with 190% the gain in that time. 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.

With that in mind, it's worth seeing if the company's underlying fundamentals have been the driver of long term performance, or if there are some discrepancies.

See our latest analysis for Costco Wholesale

To quote Buffett, 'Ships will sail around the world but the Flat Earth Society will flourish. There will continue to be wide discrepancies between price and value in the marketplace...' One flawed but reasonable way to assess how sentiment around a company has changed is to compare the earnings per share (EPS) with the share price.

Over half a decade, Costco Wholesale managed to grow its earnings per share at 18% a year. This EPS growth is slower than the share price growth of 24% per year, over the same period. This suggests that market participants hold the company in higher regard, these days. 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).

earnings-per-share-growth
NasdaqGS:COST Earnings Per Share Growth May 14th 2022

We like that insiders have been buying shares in the last twelve months. Even so, future earnings will be far more important to whether current shareholders make money. It might be well worthwhile taking a look at our free report on Costco Wholesale's earnings, revenue and cash flow.

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. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. As it happens, Costco Wholesale's TSR for the last 5 years was 211%, 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

It's nice to see that Costco Wholesale shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 30% over the last year. Of course, that includes the dividend. That gain is better than the annual TSR over five years, which is 25%. Therefore it seems like sentiment around the company has been positive lately. Given the share price momentum remains strong, it might be worth taking a closer look at the stock, lest you miss an opportunity. 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 1 warning sign with Costco Wholesale , and understanding them should be part of your investment process.

If you like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).

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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