If you buy and hold a stock for many years, you'd hope to be making a profit. Furthermore, you'd generally like to see the share price rise faster than the market Unfortunately for shareholders, while the AMERCO (NASDAQ:UHAL) share price is up 23% in the last five years, that's less than the market return. Looking at the last year alone, the stock is up 19%.
In his essay The Superinvestors of Graham-and-Doddsville Warren Buffett described how share prices do not always rationally reflect the value of a business. 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 half a decade, AMERCO managed to grow its earnings per share at 3.3% a year. This EPS growth is slower than the share price growth of 4% 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. And that's hardly shocking given the track record of growth.
The graphic below depicts how EPS has changed over time (unveil the exact values by clicking on the image).
We consider it positive that insiders have made significant purchases in the last year. Even so, future earnings will be far more important to whether current shareholders make money. It might be well worthwhile taking a look at our free report on AMERCO's earnings, revenue and cash flow.
What About Dividends?
When looking at investment returns, it is important to consider the difference between total shareholder return (TSR) and share price return. The TSR incorporates the value of any spin-offs or discounted capital raisings, along with any dividends, based on the assumption that the dividends are reinvested. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. In the case of AMERCO, it has a TSR of 27% for the last 5 years. That exceeds its share price return that we previously mentioned. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.
A Different Perspective
AMERCO shareholders are up 19% for the year (even including dividends). Unfortunately this falls short of the market return. The silver lining is that the gain was actually better than the average annual return of 5% per year over five year. It is possible that returns will improve along with the business fundamentals. 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 learn about the 2 warning signs we've spotted with AMERCO (including 1 which is significant) .
If you like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).
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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