Stock Analysis

Optimism for Knight-Swift Transportation Holdings (NYSE:KNX) has grown this past week, despite five-year decline in earnings

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NYSE:KNX
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Stock pickers are generally looking for stocks that will outperform the broader market. Buying under-rated businesses is one path to excess returns. For example, long term Knight-Swift Transportation Holdings Inc. (NYSE:KNX) shareholders have enjoyed a 94% share price rise over the last half decade, well in excess of the market return of around 67% (not including dividends).

Since the stock has added US$657m to its market cap in the past week alone, let's see if underlying performance has been driving long-term returns.

View our latest analysis for Knight-Swift Transportation Holdings

While markets are a powerful pricing mechanism, share prices reflect investor sentiment, not just underlying business performance. 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.

During five years of share price growth, Knight-Swift Transportation Holdings actually saw its EPS drop 10% per year.

Essentially, it doesn't seem likely that investors are focused on EPS. Since the change in EPS doesn't seem to correlate with the change in share price, it's worth taking a look at other metrics.

The modest 1.0% dividend yield is unlikely to be propping up the share price. In contrast revenue growth of 9.2% per year is probably viewed as evidence that Knight-Swift Transportation Holdings is growing, a real positive. It's quite possible that management are prioritizing revenue growth over EPS growth at the moment.

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:KNX Earnings and Revenue Growth December 3rd 2023

Knight-Swift Transportation Holdings is a well known stock, with plenty of analyst coverage, suggesting some visibility into future growth. Given we have quite a good number of analyst forecasts, it might be well worth checking out this free chart depicting consensus estimates.

What About Dividends?

As well as measuring the share price return, investors should also consider the total shareholder return (TSR). 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. As it happens, Knight-Swift Transportation Holdings' TSR for the last 5 years was 102%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.

A Different Perspective

While the broader market gained around 14% in the last year, Knight-Swift Transportation Holdings shareholders lost 0.5% (even including dividends). However, keep in mind that even the best stocks will sometimes underperform the market over a twelve month period. Longer term investors wouldn't be so upset, since they would have made 15%, each year, over five years. It could be that the recent sell-off is an opportunity, so it may be worth checking the fundamental data for signs of a long term growth trend. 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. Consider for instance, the ever-present spectre of investment risk. We've identified 1 warning sign with Knight-Swift Transportation Holdings , and understanding them should be part of your investment process.

Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking elsewhere. So take a peek at this free list of companies we expect will grow earnings.

Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on American exchanges.

Valuation is complex, but we're helping make it simple.

Find out whether Knight-Swift Transportation Holdings is potentially over or undervalued by checking out our comprehensive analysis, which includes fair value estimates, risks and warnings, dividends, insider transactions and financial health.

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