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If you buy and hold a stock for many years, you'd hope to be making a profit. Better yet, you'd like to see the share price move up more than the market average. But The York Water Company (NASDAQ:YORW) has fallen short of that second goal, with a share price rise of 81% over five years, which is below the market return. Looking at the last year alone, the stock is up 17%.
While the efficient markets hypothesis continues to be taught by some, it has been proven that markets are over-reactive dynamic systems, and investors are not always rational. By comparing earnings per share (EPS) and share price changes over time, we can get a feel for how investor attitudes to a company have morphed over time.
Over half a decade, York Water managed to grow its earnings per share at 5.2% a year. This EPS growth is lower than the 13% average annual increase in the share price. So it's fair to assume the market has a higher opinion of the business than it did five years ago. That's not necessarily surprising considering the five-year track record of earnings growth.
The image below shows how EPS has tracked over time (if you click on the image you can see greater detail).
We like that insiders have been buying shares in the last twelve months. Having said that, most people consider earnings and revenue growth trends to be a more meaningful guide to the business. It might be well worthwhile taking a look at our free report on York Water's earnings, revenue and cash flow.
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 York Water, it has a TSR of 98% 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
York Water provided a TSR of 19% over the last twelve months. Unfortunately this falls short of the market return. On the bright side, that's still a gain, and it's actually better than the average return of 15% over half a decade This suggests the company might be improving over time. 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. For instance, we've identified 1 warning sign for York Water that you should be aware of.
York Water is not the only stock that insiders are buying. For those who like to find winning investments this free list of growing companies with recent insider purchasing, could be just the ticket.
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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