Greif's (NYSE:GEF) underlying earnings growth outpaced the favorable return generated for shareholders over the past year

By
Simply Wall St
Published
October 18, 2021
NYSE:GEF
Source: Shutterstock

These days it's easy to simply buy an index fund, and your returns should (roughly) match the market. But investors can boost returns by picking market-beating companies to own shares in. To wit, the Greif, Inc. (NYSE:GEF) share price is 48% higher than it was a year ago, much better than the market return of around 30% (not including dividends) in the same period. So that should have shareholders smiling. And shareholders have also done well over the long term, with an increase of 34% in the last three years.

Although Greif has shed US$258m from its market cap this week, let's take a look at its longer term fundamental trends and see if they've driven returns.

See our latest analysis for Greif

To paraphrase Benjamin Graham: Over the short term the market is a voting machine, but over the long term it's a weighing machine. 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).

Greif was able to grow EPS by 155% in the last twelve months. It's fair to say that the share price gain of 48% did not keep pace with the EPS growth. Therefore, it seems the market isn't as excited about Greif as it was before. This could be an opportunity. This cautious sentiment is reflected in its (fairly low) P/E ratio of 9.31.

The company's earnings per share (over time) is depicted in the image below (click to see the exact numbers).

earnings-per-share-growth
NYSE:GEF Earnings Per Share Growth October 19th 2021

We know that Greif 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?

It is important to consider the total shareholder return, as well as the share price return, for any given stock. 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. It's fair to say that the TSR gives a more complete picture for stocks that pay a dividend. As it happens, Greif's TSR for the last 1 year was 53%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. And there's no prize for guessing that the dividend payments largely explain the divergence!

A Different Perspective

We're pleased to report that Greif shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 53% over one year. And that does include the dividend. That's better than the annualised return of 10% over half a decade, implying that the company is doing better recently. Given the share price momentum remains strong, it might be worth taking a closer look at the stock, lest you miss an opportunity. 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. To that end, you should be aware of the 1 warning sign we've spotted with Greif .

For those who like to find winning investments this free list of growing companies with recent insider purchasing, could be just the ticket.

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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