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When we invest, we're generally looking for stocks that outperform the market average. And the truth is, you can make significant gains if you buy good quality businesses at the right price. To wit, the Celanese share price has climbed 82% in five years, easily topping the market return of 47% (ignoring dividends). On the other hand, the more recent gains haven't been so impressive, with shareholders gaining just 5.2%, including dividends.
There is no denying that markets are sometimes efficient, but prices do not always reflect underlying business performance. 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, Celanese achieved compound earnings per share (EPS) growth of 5.4% per year. This EPS growth is lower than the 13% average annual increase in the share price. This suggests that market participants hold the company in higher regard, these days. That's not necessarily surprising considering the five-year track record of earnings growth.
You can see below how EPS has changed over time (discover the exact values by clicking on the image).
It is of course excellent to see how Celanese has grown profits over the years, but the future is more important for shareholders. You can see how its balance sheet has strengthened (or weakened) over time in this free interactive graphic.
What About Dividends?
It is important to consider the total shareholder return, as well as the share price return, for any given stock. 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. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. As it happens, Celanese's TSR for the last 5 years was 100%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!
A Different Perspective
Celanese shareholders are up 5.2% for the year (even including dividends). But that was short of the market average. If we look back over five years, the returns are even better, coming in at 15% per year for five years. It's quite possible the business continues to execute with prowess, even as the share price gains are slowing. Before spending more time on Celanese 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.