For many, the main point of investing in the stock market is to achieve spectacular returns. And highest quality companies can see their share prices grow by huge amounts. Just think about the savvy investors who held MarketAxess Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ:MKTX) shares for the last five years, while they gained 413%. If that doesn't get you thinking about long term investing, we don't know what will. It's also good to see the share price up 17% over the last quarter. But this move may well have been assisted by the reasonably buoyant market (up 14% in 90 days).
In his essay The Superinvestors of Graham-and-Doddsville Warren Buffett described how share prices do not always rationally reflect the value of a business. 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.
During five years of share price growth, MarketAxess Holdings achieved compound earnings per share (EPS) growth of 24% per year. This EPS growth is slower than the share price growth of 39% 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 optimism is visible in its fairly high P/E ratio of 76.13.
The image below shows how EPS has tracked over time (if you click on the image you can see greater detail).
We're pleased to report that the CEO is remunerated more modestly than most CEOs at similarly capitalized companies. But while CEO remuneration is always worth checking, the really important question is whether the company can grow earnings going forward. Before buying or selling a stock, we always recommend a close examination of historic growth trends, available here..
What About Dividends?
As well as measuring the share price return, investors should also consider the total shareholder return (TSR). 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. In the case of MarketAxess Holdings, it has a TSR of 432% for the last 5 years. That exceeds its share price return that we previously mentioned. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!
A Different Perspective
It's nice to see that MarketAxess Holdings shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 50% over the last year. And that does include the dividend. Since the one-year TSR is better than the five-year TSR (the latter coming in at 40% per year), it would seem that the stock's performance has improved in recent times. Someone with an optimistic perspective could view the recent improvement in TSR as indicating that the business itself is getting better with time. 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 risks, for instance. Every company has them, and we've spotted 1 warning sign for MarketAxess Holdings you should know about.
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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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