For many, the main point of investing in the stock market is to achieve spectacular returns. And highest quality companies can see their share prices grow by huge amounts. To wit, the Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) share price has soared 459% over five years. And this is just one example of the epic gains achieved by some long term investors. We note the stock price is up 2.4% in the last seven days.
There is no denying that markets are sometimes efficient, but prices do not always reflect underlying business performance. One flawed but reasonable way to assess how sentiment around a company has changed is to compare the earnings per share (EPS) with the share price.
Over half a decade, Apple managed to grow its earnings per share at 15% a year. This EPS growth is slower than the share price growth of 41% per year, over the same period. So it's fair to assume the market has a higher opinion of the business than it did five years ago. That's not necessarily surprising considering the five-year track record of earnings growth.
The graphic below depicts how EPS has changed over time (unveil the exact values by clicking on the image).
We know that Apple has improved its bottom line lately, but is it going to grow revenue? Check if analysts think Apple will grow revenue in the future.
What About Dividends?
It is important to consider the total shareholder return, as well as the share price return, for any given stock. 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. Arguably, the TSR gives a more comprehensive picture of the return generated by a stock. In the case of Apple, it has a TSR of 498% for the last 5 years. That exceeds its share price return that we previously mentioned. And there's no prize for guessing that the dividend payments largely explain the divergence!
A Different Perspective
It's good to see that Apple has rewarded shareholders with a total shareholder return of 50% in the last twelve months. That's including the dividend. Since the one-year TSR is better than the five-year TSR (the latter coming in at 43% per year), it would seem that the stock's performance has improved in recent times. Someone with an optimistic perspective could view the recent improvement in TSR as indicating that the business itself is getting better with time. It's always interesting to track share price performance over the longer term. But to understand Apple better, we need to consider many other factors. Consider for instance, the ever-present spectre of investment risk. We've identified 1 warning sign with Apple , and understanding them should be part of your investment process.
Of course Apple 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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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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