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Did Equifax's (NYSE:EFX) Share Price Deserve to Gain 80%?

Simply Wall St

When we invest, we're generally looking for stocks that outperform the market average. And while active stock picking involves risks (and requires diversification) it can also provide excess returns. To wit, the Equifax share price has climbed 80% in five years, easily topping the market return of 44% (ignoring dividends). On the other hand, the more recent gains haven't been so impressive, with shareholders gaining just 43% , including dividends .

Check out our latest analysis for Equifax

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 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.

During five years of share price growth, Equifax actually saw its EPS drop 22% per year. This was, in part, due to extraordinary items impacting earning in the last twelve months.

Essentially, it doesn't seem likely that investors are focused on EPS. Since the change in EPS doesn't seem to correlate with the change in share price, it's worth taking a look at other metrics.

The modest 1.1% dividend yield is unlikely to be propping up the share price. In contrast revenue growth of 7.8% per year is probably viewed as evidence that Equifax is growing, a real positive. It's quite possible that management are prioritizing revenue growth over EPS growth at the moment.

The graphic below depicts how earnings and revenue have changed over time (unveil the exact values by clicking on the image).

NYSE:EFX Income Statement, October 29th 2019

Equifax is well known by investors, and plenty of clever analysts have tried to predict the future profit levels. Given we have quite a good number of analyst forecasts, it might be well worth checking out this free chart depicting consensus estimates.

What About Dividends?

When looking at investment returns, it is important to consider the difference between total shareholder return (TSR) and share price return. 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 Equifax, it has a TSR of 91% 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 good to see that Equifax has rewarded shareholders with a total shareholder return of 43% in the last twelve months. And that does include the dividend. That's better than the annualised return of 14% 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. You could get a better understanding of Equifax's growth by checking out this more detailed historical graph of earnings, revenue and cash flow.

If you would prefer to check out another company -- one with potentially superior financials -- then do not miss this free list of companies that have proven they can grow earnings.

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 editorial-team@simplywallst.com. 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.