We think all investors should try to buy and hold high quality multi-year winners. And highest quality companies can see their share prices grow by huge amounts. For example, the Craneware plc (LON:CRW) share price is up a whopping 396% in the last half decade, a handsome return for long term holders. And this is just one example of the epic gains achieved by some long term investors. On top of that, the share price is up 28% in about a quarter.
To paraphrase Benjamin Graham: Over the short term the market is a voting machine, but over the long term it's a weighing machine. 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).
Over half a decade, Craneware managed to grow its earnings per share at 12% a year. This EPS growth is slower than the share price growth of 38% per year, over the same period. So it's fair to assume the market has a higher opinion of the business than it did five years ago. And that's hardly shocking given the track record of growth. This optimism is visible in its fairly high P/E ratio of 56.47.
The image below shows how EPS has tracked over time (if you click on the image you can see greater detail).
It's good to see that there was some significant insider buying in the last three months. That's a positive. On the other hand, we think the revenue and earnings trends are much more meaningful measures of the business. This free interactive report on Craneware's earnings, revenue and cash flow is a great place to start, if you want to investigate the stock further.
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. Arguably, the TSR gives a more comprehensive picture of the return generated by a stock. In the case of Craneware, it has a TSR of 434% for the last 5 years. That exceeds its share price return that we previously mentioned. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!
A Different Perspective
Investors in Craneware had a tough year, with a total loss of 12% (including dividends) , against a market gain of about 11%. 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 40% per year over half a decade. It could be that the recent sell-off is an opportunity, so it may be worth checking the fundamental data for signs of a long term growth trend. If you want to research this stock further, the data on insider buying is an obvious place to start. You can click here to see who has been buying shares - and the price they paid.
There are plenty of other companies that have insiders buying up shares. You probably do 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 GB exchanges.
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.
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. Thank you for reading.