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The American Water Works Company (NYSE:AWK) Share Price Has Gained 154%, So Why Not Pay It Some Attention?

Simply Wall St

When you buy a stock there is always a possibility that it could drop 100%. But when you pick a company that is really flourishing, you can make more than 100%. One great example is American Water Works Company, Inc. (NYSE:AWK) which saw its share price drive 154% higher over five years. It's also good to see the share price up 12% over the last quarter. But this could be related to the strong market, which is up 5.3% in the last three months.

View our latest analysis for American Water Works Company

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, American Water Works Company managed to grow its earnings per share at 8.0% a year. This EPS growth is slower than the share price growth of 21% 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 company's earnings per share (over time) is depicted in the image below (click to see the exact numbers).

NYSE:AWK Past and Future Earnings, September 2nd 2019

We consider it positive that insiders have made significant purchases in the last year. Having said that, most people consider earnings and revenue growth trends to be a more meaningful guide to the business. It might be well worthwhile taking a look at our free report on American Water Works Company's earnings, revenue and cash flow.

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 incorporates the value of any spin-offs or discounted capital raisings, along with any dividends, based on the assumption that the dividends are reinvested. It's fair to say that the TSR gives a more complete picture for stocks that pay a dividend. We note that for American Water Works Company the TSR over the last 5 years was 182%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.

A Different Perspective

We're pleased to report that American Water Works Company shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 48% over one year. Of course, that includes the dividend. Since the one-year TSR is better than the five-year TSR (the latter coming in at 23% per year), it would seem that the stock's performance has improved in recent times. Given the share price momentum remains strong, it might be worth taking a closer look at the stock, lest you miss an opportunity. If you want to research this stock further, the data on insider buying is an obvious place to start. You can click here to see who has been buying shares - and the price they paid.

American Water Works Company is not the only stock insiders are buying. So take a peek at this free list of growing companies with insider buying.

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

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.

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. Thank you for reading.