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The simplest way to invest in stocks is to buy exchange traded funds. But in our experience, buying the right stocks can give your wealth a significant boost. For example, the GATX Corporation (NYSE:GATX) share price is up 97% in the last five years, slightly above the market return. It's fair to say the stock has continued its long term trend in the last year, over which it has risen 59%.
There is no denying that markets are sometimes efficient, but prices do not always reflect underlying business performance. 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).
GATX's earnings per share are down 2.1% per year, despite strong share price performance over five years.
By glancing at these numbers, we'd posit that the decline in earnings per share is not representative of how the business has changed over the years. 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.
The revenue reduction of 2.4% per year is not a positive. It certainly surprises us that the share price is up, but perhaps a closer examination of the data will yield answers.
The graphic below depicts how earnings and revenue have changed over time (unveil the exact values by clicking on the image).
If you are thinking of buying or selling GATX stock, you should check out this FREE detailed report on its balance sheet.
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 GATX, it has a TSR of 125% for the last 5 years. That exceeds its share price return that we previously mentioned. And there's no prize for guessing that the dividend payments largely explain the divergence!
A Different Perspective
GATX provided a TSR of 64% over the year (including dividends). That's fairly close to the broader market return. Most would be happy with a gain, and it helps that the year's return is actually better than the average return over five years, which was 18%. Even if the share price growth slows down from here, there's a good chance that this is business worth watching in the long term. While it is well worth considering the different impacts that market conditions can have on the share price, there are other factors that are even more important. For example, we've discovered 3 warning signs for GATX (1 is concerning!) that you should be aware of before investing here.
If you like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).
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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