It hasn't been the best quarter for Anthem, Inc. (NYSE:ANTM) shareholders, since the share price has fallen 23% in that time. But that scarcely detracts from the really solid long term returns generated by the company over five years. We think most investors would be happy with the 102% return, over that period. So while it's never fun to see a share price fall, it's important to look at a longer time horizon. Of course, that doesn't necessarily mean it's cheap now.
There is no denying that markets are sometimes efficient, but prices do not always reflect 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.
Over half a decade, Anthem managed to grow its earnings per share at 14% a year. So the EPS growth rate is rather close to the annualized share price gain of 15% per year. Therefore one could conclude that sentiment towards the shares hasn't morphed very much. Rather, the share price has approximately tracked EPS growth.
You can see how EPS has changed over time in the image below (click on the chart to see the exact values).
It might be well worthwhile taking a look at our free report on Anthem's earnings, revenue and cash flow.
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. It's fair to say that the TSR gives a more complete picture for stocks that pay a dividend. We note that for Anthem the TSR over the last 5 years was 118%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!
A Different Perspective
While the broader market gained around 8.3% in the last year, Anthem shareholders lost 11% (even including dividends) . However, keep in mind that even the best stocks will sometimes underperform the market over a twelve month period. On the bright side, long term shareholders have made money, with a gain of 17% per year over half a decade. If the fundamental data continues to indicate long term sustainable growth, the current sell-off could be an opportunity worth considering. Before spending more time on Anthem it might be wise to click here to see if insiders have been buying or selling shares.
But note: Anthem may not be the best stock to buy. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with past earnings growth (and further growth forecast).
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.