American Express' (NYSE:AXP) earnings growth rate lags the 21% CAGR delivered to shareholders

By
Simply Wall St
Published
November 23, 2021
NYSE:AXP
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When you buy shares in a company, it's worth keeping in mind the possibility that it could fail, and you could lose your money. But on the bright side, you can make far more than 100% on a really good stock. For instance, the price of American Express Company (NYSE:AXP) stock is up an impressive 137% over the last five years. In contrast, the stock has fallen 8.6% in the last 30 days.

In light of the stock dropping 6.7% in the past week, we want to investigate the longer term story, and see if fundamentals have been the driver of the company's positive five-year return.

Check out our latest analysis for American Express

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. 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, American Express managed to grow its earnings per share at 12% a year. This EPS growth is lower than the 19% average annual increase in the share price. So it's fair to assume the market has a higher opinion of the business than it did five years ago. And that's hardly shocking given the track record of growth.

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

earnings-per-share-growth
NYSE:AXP Earnings Per Share Growth November 23rd 2021

We know that American Express has improved its bottom line over the last three years, but what does the future have in store? Take a more thorough look at American Express' financial health with this free report on its balance sheet.

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 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 American Express the TSR over the last 5 years was 155%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!

A Different Perspective

It's nice to see that American Express shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 49% over the last year. Of course, that includes the dividend. Since the one-year TSR is better than the five-year TSR (the latter coming in at 21% per year), it would seem that the stock's performance has improved in recent times. 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. Case in point: We've spotted 1 warning sign for American Express you should be aware of.

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.

This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. 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.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.

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