For many, the main point of investing in the stock market is to achieve spectacular returns. While not every stock performs well, when investors win, they can win big. For example, the West Pharmaceutical Services, Inc. (NYSE:WST) share price is up a whopping 423% in the last half decade, a handsome return for long term holders. If that doesn't get you thinking about long term investing, we don't know what will. It's also up 13% in about a month.
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 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, West Pharmaceutical Services achieved compound earnings per share (EPS) growth of 26% 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 favorable sentiment is reflected in its (fairly optimistic) P/E ratio of 70.86.
You can see below how EPS has changed over time (discover the exact values by clicking on the image).
We know that West Pharmaceutical Services has improved its bottom line lately, but is it going to grow revenue? If you're interested, you could check this free report showing consensus revenue forecasts.
What About Dividends?
When looking at investment returns, it is important to consider the difference between total shareholder return (TSR) and share price return. Whereas the share price return only reflects the change in the share price, the TSR includes the value of dividends (assuming they were reinvested) and the benefit of any discounted capital raising or spin-off. It's fair to say that the TSR gives a more complete picture for stocks that pay a dividend. As it happens, West Pharmaceutical Services' TSR for the last 5 years was 437%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!
A Different Perspective
It's nice to see that West Pharmaceutical Services shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 91% 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. Given the share price momentum remains strong, it might be worth taking a closer look at the stock, lest you miss an opportunity. If you would like to research West Pharmaceutical Services in more detail then you might want to take a look at whether insiders have been buying or selling shares in the company.
We will like West Pharmaceutical Services better if we see some big insider buys. While we wait, check out this free list of growing companies with considerable, recent, insider 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. 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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