By buying an index fund, you can roughly match the market return with ease. But many of us dare to dream of bigger returns, and build a portfolio ourselves. For example, the Hays plc (LON:HAS) share price is up 25% in the last three years, clearly besting than the market return of around 15% (not including dividends).
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).
During three years of share price growth, Hays achieved compound earnings per share growth of 15% per year. The average annual share price increase of 7.6% is actually lower than the EPS growth. So it seems investors have become more cautious about the company, over time.
The graphic below depicts how EPS has changed over time (unveil the exact values by clicking on the image).
We know that Hays has improved its bottom line lately, but is it going to grow revenue? You could check out this free report showing analyst revenue forecasts.
What About Dividends?
When looking at investment returns, it is important to consider the difference between total shareholder return (TSR) and share price return. The TSR is a return calculation that accounts for the value of cash dividends (assuming that any dividend received was reinvested) and the calculated value of any discounted capital raisings. It’s fair to say that the TSR gives a more complete picture for stocks that pay a dividend. We note that for Hays the TSR over the last 3 years was 38%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!
A Different Perspective
Hays shareholders are down 18% for the year (even including dividends), but the market itself is up 0.8%. Even the share prices of good stocks drop sometimes, but we want to see improvements in the fundamental metrics of a business, before getting too interested. On the bright side, long term shareholders have made money, with a gain of 5.2% 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 would like to research Hays in more detail then you might want to take a look at whether insiders have been buying or selling shares in the company.
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 GB 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 email@example.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.