Despite lower earnings than three years ago, Vulcan Materials (NYSE:VMC) investors are up 85% since then

By
Simply Wall St
Published
January 26, 2022
NYSE:VMC
Source: Shutterstock

Vulcan Materials Company (NYSE:VMC) shareholders might be concerned after seeing the share price drop 11% in the last month. But we wouldn't complain about the gain over the last three years. In that time the stock gained 80%, besting the market return of 72%.

Although Vulcan Materials has shed US$940m from its market cap this week, let's take a look at its longer term fundamental trends and see if they've driven returns.

Check out our latest analysis for Vulcan Materials

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. By comparing earnings per share (EPS) and share price changes over time, we can get a feel for how investor attitudes to a company have morphed over time.

During the three years of share price growth, Vulcan Materials actually saw its earnings per share (EPS) drop 3.4% per year.

Companies are not always focussed on EPS growth in the short term, and looking at how the share price has reacted, we don't think EPS is the most important metric for Vulcan Materials at the moment. So other metrics may hold the key to understanding what is influencing investors.

The modest 0.8% dividend yield is unlikely to be propping up the share price. It could be that the revenue growth of 4.5% per year is viewed as evidence that Vulcan Materials is growing. In that case, the company may be sacrificing current earnings per share to drive growth, and maybe shareholder's faith in better days ahead will be rewarded.

You can see how earnings and revenue have changed over time in the image below (click on the chart to see the exact values).

earnings-and-revenue-growth
NYSE:VMC Earnings and Revenue Growth January 26th 2022

Vulcan Materials is a well known stock, with plenty of analyst coverage, suggesting some visibility into future growth. If you are thinking of buying or selling Vulcan Materials stock, you should check out this free report showing analyst consensus estimates for future profits.

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. Arguably, the TSR gives a more comprehensive picture of the return generated by a stock. As it happens, Vulcan Materials' TSR for the last 3 years was 85%, 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

It's good to see that Vulcan Materials has rewarded shareholders with a total shareholder return of 23% in the last twelve months. Of course, that includes the dividend. That gain is better than the annual TSR over five years, which is 8%. Therefore it seems like sentiment around the company has been positive lately. Given the share price momentum remains strong, it might be worth taking a closer look at the stock, lest you miss an opportunity. It's always interesting to track share price performance over the longer term. But to understand Vulcan Materials better, we need to consider many other factors. For example, we've discovered 2 warning signs for Vulcan Materials that you should be aware of before investing here.

Of course Vulcan Materials may not be the best stock to buy. So you may wish to see this free collection of growth stocks.

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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