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Did You Miss Southwest Gas Holdings's (NYSE:SWX) 69% Share Price Gain?

Simply Wall St

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When we invest, we're generally looking for stocks that outperform the market average. And in our experience, buying the right stocks can give your wealth a significant boost. For example, long term Southwest Gas Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:SWX) shareholders have enjoyed a 69% share price rise over the last half decade, well in excess of the market return of around 38% (not including dividends). On the other hand, the more recent gains haven't been so impressive, with shareholders gaining just 22%, including dividends.

Check out our latest analysis for Southwest Gas Holdings

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.

During five years of share price growth, Southwest Gas Holdings achieved compound earnings per share (EPS) growth of 6.0% per year. This EPS growth is lower than the 11% average annual increase in the share price. This suggests that market participants hold the company in higher regard, these days. That's not necessarily surprising considering the five-year track record of earnings growth.

You can see below how EPS has changed over time (discover the exact values by clicking on the image).

NYSE:SWX Past and Future Earnings, June 14th 2019

It's probably worth noting we've seen significant insider buying in the last quarter, which we consider a positive. On the other hand, we think the revenue and earnings trends are much more meaningful measures of the business. Before buying or selling a stock, we always recommend a close examination of historic growth trends, available here..

What About Dividends?

As well as measuring the share price return, investors should also consider the total shareholder return (TSR). 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. It's fair to say that the TSR gives a more complete picture for stocks that pay a dividend. We note that for Southwest Gas Holdings the TSR over the last 5 years was 93%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!

A Different Perspective

It's good to see that Southwest Gas Holdings has rewarded shareholders with a total shareholder return of 22% in the last twelve months. Of course, that includes the dividend. That gain is better than the annual TSR over five years, which is 14%. Therefore it seems like sentiment around the company has been positive lately. In the best case scenario, this may hint at some real business momentum, implying that now could be a great time to delve deeper. 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.

Southwest Gas Holdings is not the only stock insiders are buying. So take a peek at this free list of growing companies with insider buying.

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.