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By buying an index fund, you can roughly match the market return with ease. But if you pick the right individual stocks, you could make more than that. For example, the Hamilton Lane Incorporated (NASDAQ:HLNE) share price is up 95% in the last three years, clearly besting the market return of around 53% (not including dividends). On the other hand, the returns haven't been quite so good recently, with shareholders up just 31% , including dividends .
There is no denying that markets are sometimes efficient, but prices do not always reflect underlying business performance. 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.
Hamilton Lane was able to grow its EPS at 44% per year over three years, sending the share price higher. The average annual share price increase of 25% is actually lower than the EPS growth. Therefore, it seems the market has moderated its expectations for growth, somewhat.
The image below shows how EPS has tracked over time (if you click on the image you can see greater detail).
We're pleased to report that the CEO is remunerated more modestly than most CEOs at similarly capitalized companies. But while CEO remuneration is always worth checking, the really important question is whether the company can grow earnings going forward. Dive deeper into the earnings by checking this interactive graph of Hamilton Lane's earnings, revenue and cash flow.
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 Hamilton Lane the TSR over the last 3 years was 106%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.
A Different Perspective
Hamilton Lane shareholders are up 31% for the year (even including dividends). It's always nice to make money but this return falls short of the market return which was about 38% for the year. On the bright side that gain is actually better than the average return of 27% over the last three years, implying that the company is doing better recently. If the business can justify the share price gain with improving fundamental data, then there could be more gains to come. 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. Even so, be aware that Hamilton Lane is showing 1 warning sign in our investment analysis , you should know about...
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.
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. 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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