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The AbbVie (NYSE:ABBV) Share Price Is Up 44% And Shareholders Are Holding On

Simply Wall St

You can receive the average market return by buying a low-cost index fund. But you can make superior returns by picking better-than average stocks. To wit, AbbVie Inc. (NYSE:ABBV) shares are up 44% in three years, besting the market return. The stock price is up 0.8%: that's not amazing, but it's better than a kick in the teeth.

See our latest analysis for AbbVie

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 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 the last three years, AbbVie failed to grow earnings per share, which fell 16% (annualized).

Thus, it seems unlikely that the market is focussed on EPS growth at the moment. Given this situation, it makes sense to look at other metrics too.

Interestingly, the dividend has increased over time; so that may have given the share price a boost. Sometimes yield-chasing investors will flock to a company if they think the dividend can grow over time. On top of that, revenue grew at a rate of 10% per year, and it's likely investors interpret that as pointing to a brighter future.

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

NYSE:ABBV Income Statement, January 11th 2020

We like that insiders have been buying shares in the last twelve months. Even so, future earnings will be far more important to whether current shareholders make money. So we recommend checking out this free report showing consensus forecasts

What About Dividends?

When looking at investment returns, it is important to consider the difference between total shareholder return (TSR) and share price return. 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, AbbVie's TSR for the last 3 years was 62%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.

A Different Perspective

AbbVie provided a TSR of 6.5% over the last twelve months. But that return falls short of the market. It's probably a good sign that the company has an even better long term track record, having provided shareholders with an annual TSR of 11% over five years. It's quite possible the business continues to execute with prowess, even as the share price gains are slowing. It is all well and good that insiders have been buying shares, but we suggest you check here to see what price insiders were buying at.

AbbVie is not the only stock that insiders are buying. 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.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. 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. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Thank you for reading.