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Did You Participate In Any Of California Water Service Group's (NYSE:CWT) Fantastic 124% Return ?

Simply Wall St
·4 mins read

The worst result, after buying shares in a company (assuming no leverage), would be if you lose all the money you put in. But when you pick a company that is really flourishing, you can make more than 100%. One great example is California Water Service Group (NYSE:CWT) which saw its share price drive 103% higher over five years. Then again, the 9.8% share price decline hasn't been so fun for shareholders. We note that the broader market is down 0.9% in the last month, and this may have impacted California Water Service Group's share price.

Check out our latest analysis for California Water Service Group

There is no denying that markets are sometimes efficient, but prices do not always reflect underlying business performance. One imperfect but simple way to consider how the market perception of a company has shifted is to compare the change in the earnings per share (EPS) with the share price movement.

California Water Service Group's earnings per share are down 7.5% per year, despite strong share price performance over five years.

This means it's unlikely the market is judging the company based on earnings growth. 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.

We doubt the modest 1.9% dividend yield is attracting many buyers to the stock. In contrast revenue growth of 4.7% per year is probably viewed as evidence that California Water Service Group is growing, a real positive. In that case, the company may be sacrificing current earnings per share to drive growth.

You can see how earnings and revenue have changed over time in the image below (click on the chart to see the exact values).

earnings-and-revenue-growth
earnings-and-revenue-growth

Balance sheet strength is crucial. It might be well worthwhile taking a look at our free report on how its financial position has changed over time.

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. We note that for California Water Service Group the TSR over the last 5 years was 124%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. And there's no prize for guessing that the dividend payments largely explain the divergence!

A Different Perspective

California Water Service Group shareholders are down 17% for the year (even including dividends), but the market itself is up 15%. However, keep in mind that even the best stocks will sometimes underperform the market over a twelve month period. On the bright side, long term shareholders have made money, with a gain of 17% 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. 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. To that end, you should learn about the 4 warning signs we've spotted with California Water Service Group (including 1 which is shouldn't be ignored) .

Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking elsewhere. So take a peek at this free list of companies we expect will 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.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team@simplywallst.com.