The most you can lose on any stock (assuming you don't use leverage) is 100% of your money. But on a lighter note, a good company can see its share price rise well over 100%. For instance, the price of ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP) stock is up an impressive 134% over the last five years. Also pleasing for shareholders was the 34% gain in the last three months.
Since the stock has added US$16b to its market cap in the past week alone, let's see if underlying performance has been driving long-term returns.
While the efficient markets hypothesis continues to be taught by some, it has been proven that markets are over-reactive dynamic systems, and investors are not always rational. 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 the five years of share price growth, ConocoPhillips moved from a loss to profitability. Sometimes, the start of profitability is a major inflection point that can signal fast earnings growth to come, which in turn justifies very strong share price gains. Since the company was unprofitable five years ago, but not three years ago, it's worth taking a look at the returns in the last three years, too. Indeed, the ConocoPhillips share price has gained 111% in three years. In the same period, EPS is up 26% per year. This EPS growth is reasonably close to the 28% average annual increase in the share price (over three years, again). That suggests that the market sentiment around the company hasn't changed much over that time. Arguably the share price is reflecting the earnings per share.
You can see below how EPS has changed over time (discover the exact values by clicking on the image).
We know that ConocoPhillips has improved its bottom line lately, but is it going to grow revenue? Check if analysts think ConocoPhillips will grow revenue in the future.
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. Arguably, the TSR gives a more comprehensive picture of the return generated by a stock. In the case of ConocoPhillips, it has a TSR of 173% for the last 5 years. That exceeds its share price return that we previously mentioned. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.
A Different Perspective
It's nice to see that ConocoPhillips shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 69% over the last year. That's including the dividend. That's better than the annualised return of 22% over half a decade, implying that the company is doing better recently. In the best case scenario, this may hint at some real business momentum, implying that now could be a great time to delve deeper. I find it very interesting to look at share price over the long term as a proxy for business performance. But to truly gain insight, we need to consider other information, too. Like risks, for instance. Every company has them, and we've spotted 3 warning signs for ConocoPhillips (of which 1 doesn't sit too well with us!) you should know about.
For those who like to find winning investments this free list of growing companies with recent insider purchasing, could be just the ticket.
Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on US exchanges.
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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.
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