Passive investing in index funds can generate returns that roughly match the overall market. But you can do a lot better than that by buying good quality businesses for attractive prices. For example, the Black Hills Corporation (NYSE:BKH) share price is 52% higher than it was five years ago, which is more than the market average. It's also good to see a healthy gain of 26% in the last year.
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 way to examine how market sentiment has changed over time is to look at the interaction between a company's share price and its earnings per share (EPS).
During five years of share price growth, Black Hills achieved compound earnings per share (EPS) growth of 8.6% per year. This EPS growth is remarkably close to the 8.8% average annual increase in the share price. 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).
We're pleased to report that the CEO is remunerated more modestly than most CEOs at similarly capitalized companies. It's always worth keeping an eye on CEO pay, but a more important question is whether the company will grow earnings throughout the years. Before buying or selling a stock, we always recommend a close examination of historic growth trends, available here..
What About Dividends?
As well as measuring the share price return, investors should also consider the total shareholder return (TSR). 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. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. We note that for Black Hills the TSR over the last 5 years was 77%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. And there's no prize for guessing that the dividend payments largely explain the divergence!
A Different Perspective
It's good to see that Black Hills has rewarded shareholders with a total shareholder return of 30% in the last twelve months. That's including the dividend. That gain is better than the annual TSR over five years, which is 12%. Therefore it seems like sentiment around the company has been positive lately. Someone with an optimistic perspective could view the recent improvement in TSR as indicating that the business itself is getting better with time. Before spending more time on Black Hills it might be wise to click here to see if insiders have been buying or selling shares.
If you are like me, then you will not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are 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 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.