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Buying shares in the best businesses can build meaningful wealth for you and your family. And we've seen some truly amazing gains over the years. Don't believe it? Then look at the North American Construction Group Ltd. (TSE:NOA) share price. It's 446% higher than it was five years ago. And this is just one example of the epic gains achieved by some long term investors. It's also good to see the share price up 57% over the last quarter.
There is no denying that markets are sometimes efficient, but prices do not always reflect underlying business performance. 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.
During the five years of share price growth, North American Construction Group moved from a loss to profitability. Sometimes, the start of profitability is a major inflection point that can signal fast earnings growth to come, which in turn justifies very strong share price gains. Given that the company made a profit three years ago, but not five years ago, it is worth looking at the share price returns over the last three years, too. We can see that the North American Construction Group share price is up 127% in the last three years. Meanwhile, EPS is up 174% per year. This EPS growth is higher than the 31% average annual increase in the share price over the same three years. So you might conclude the market is a little more cautious about the stock, these days. This unenthusiastic sentiment is reflected in the stock's reasonably modest P/E ratio of 7.67.
You can see how EPS has changed over time in the image below (click on the chart to see the exact values).
We consider it positive that insiders have made significant purchases in the last year. Having said that, most people consider earnings and revenue growth trends to be a more meaningful guide to the business. Before buying or selling a stock, we always recommend a close examination of historic growth trends, available here..
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 North American Construction Group, it has a TSR of 485% for the last 5 years. That exceeds its share price return that we previously mentioned. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!
A Different Perspective
North American Construction Group shareholders are down 13% for the year (even including dividends), but the market itself is up 6.4%. 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 42% per year over half a decade. If the fundamental data continues to indicate long term sustainable growth, the current sell-off could be an opportunity worth considering. It's always interesting to track share price performance over the longer term. But to understand North American Construction Group better, we need to consider many other factors. Like risks, for instance. Every company has them, and we've spotted 4 warning signs for North American Construction Group (of which 1 is a bit concerning!) you should know about.
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 CA 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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