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When we invest, we’re generally looking for stocks that outperform the market average. Buying under-rated businesses is one path to excess returns. For example, the Hormel Foods Corporation (NYSE:HRL) share price is up 67% in the last 5 years, clearly besting than the market return of around 38% (ignoring dividends). However, more recent returns haven’t been as impressive as that, with the stock returning just 16% in the last year, including dividends.
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 way to examine how market sentiment has changed over time is to look at the interaction between a company’s share price and its earnings per share (EPS).
During five years of share price growth, Hormel Foods achieved compound earnings per share (EPS) growth of 12% per year. This EPS growth is reasonably close to the 11% average annual increase in the share price. That suggests that the market sentiment around the company hasn’t changed much over that time. In fact, the share price seems to largely reflect the EPS growth.
You can see below how EPS has 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. 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. We note that for Hormel Foods the TSR over the last 5 years was 82%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. And there’s no prize for guessing that the dividend payments largely explain the divergence!
A Different Perspective
It’s nice to see that Hormel Foods shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 16% over the last year. That’s including the dividend. Since the one-year TSR is better than the five-year TSR (the latter coming in at 13% per year), it would seem that the stock’s performance has improved in recent times. In the best case scenario, this may hint at some real business momentum, implying that now could be a great time to delve deeper. Most investors take the time to check the data on insider transactions. You can click here to see if insiders have been buying or selling.
But note: Hormel Foods may not be the best stock to buy. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with past earnings growth (and further growth forecast).
Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on US exchanges.
We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.
If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at email@example.com. 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. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.