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Australian Agricultural (ASX:AAC) shareholders have earned a 35% return over the last year

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These days it's easy to simply buy an index fund, and your returns should (roughly) match the market. But if you pick the right individual stocks, you could make more than that. For example, the Australian Agricultural Company Limited (ASX:AAC) share price is up 35% in the last 1 year, clearly besting the market return of around 20% (not including dividends). That's a solid performance by our standards! Having said that, the longer term returns aren't so impressive, with stock gaining just 20% in three years.

Now it's worth having a look at the company's fundamentals too, because that will help us determine if the long term shareholder return has matched the performance of the underlying business.

View our latest analysis for Australian Agricultural

While markets are a powerful pricing mechanism, share prices reflect investor sentiment, not just underlying business performance. One flawed but reasonable way to assess how sentiment around a company has changed is to compare the earnings per share (EPS) with the share price.

Australian Agricultural was able to grow EPS by 45% in the last twelve months. It's fair to say that the share price gain of 35% did not keep pace with the EPS growth. Therefore, it seems the market isn't as excited about Australian Agricultural as it was before. This could be an opportunity.

The image below shows how EPS has tracked over time (if you click on the image you can see greater detail).

earnings-per-share-growth
earnings-per-share-growth

We know that Australian Agricultural has improved its bottom line over the last three years, but what does the future have in store? Take a more thorough look at Australian Agricultural's financial health with this free report on its balance sheet.

A Different Perspective

It's good to see that Australian Agricultural has rewarded shareholders with a total shareholder return of 35% in the last twelve months. Notably the five-year annualised TSR loss of 3% per year compares very unfavourably with the recent share price performance. This makes us a little wary, but the business might have turned around its fortunes. It's always interesting to track share price performance over the longer term. But to understand Australian Agricultural better, we need to consider many other factors. For instance, we've identified 2 warning signs for Australian Agricultural (1 is a bit unpleasant) that you should be aware of.

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 AU exchanges.

This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. 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.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.