The simplest way to invest in stocks is to buy exchange traded funds. But you can significantly boost your returns by picking above-average stocks. To wit, the CVS Health Corporation (NYSE:CVS) share price is 44% higher than it was a year ago, much better than the market return of around 32% (not including dividends) in the same period. If it can keep that out-performance up over the long term, investors will do very well! The longer term returns have not been as good, with the stock price only 8.1% higher than it was three years ago.
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.
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 the last twelve months, CVS Health actually shrank its EPS by 13%.
Given the share price gain, we doubt the market is measuring progress with EPS. Indeed, when EPS is declining but the share price is up, it often means the market is considering other factors.
However the year on year revenue growth of 5.4% would help. Many businesses do go through a phase where they have to forgo some profits to drive business development, and sometimes its for the best.
The image below shows how earnings and revenue have tracked over time (if you click on the image you can see greater detail).
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. If you are thinking of buying or selling CVS Health stock, you should check out this free report showing analyst profit forecasts.
What About Dividends?
As well as measuring the share price return, investors should also consider the total shareholder return (TSR). 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 CVS Health the TSR over the last 1 year was 48%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!
A Different Perspective
We're pleased to report that CVS Health shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 48% over one year. And that does include the dividend. That gain is better than the annual TSR over five years, which is 1.3%. Therefore it seems like sentiment around the company has been positive lately. Someone with an optimistic perspective could view the recent improvement in TSR as indicating that the business itself is getting better with time. 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. For instance, we've identified 1 warning sign for CVS Health that you should be aware of.
There are plenty of other companies that have insiders buying up shares. You probably do not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are 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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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.
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