When you buy shares in a company, it's worth keeping in mind the possibility that it could fail, and you could lose your money. But on the bright side, if you buy shares in a high quality company at the right price, you can gain well over 100%. For instance, the price of Systemax Inc. (NYSE:SYX) stock is up an impressive 162% over the last five years. The last week saw the share price soften some 3.4%.
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).
During the last half decade, Systemax became profitable. That kind of transition can be an inflection point that justifies a strong share price gain, just as we have seen here. 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. In fact, the Systemax stock price is 11% lower in the last three years. During the same period, EPS grew by 11% each year. So there seems to be a mismatch between the positive EPS growth and the change in the share price, which is down -3.8% per year.
The graphic below depicts how EPS has changed over time (unveil the exact values by clicking on the image).
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 Systemax the TSR over the last 5 years was 308%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!
A Different Perspective
Systemax shareholders are up 1.0% for the year (even including dividends). Unfortunately this falls short of the market return. On the bright side, the longer term returns (running at about 32% a year, over half a decade) look better. It may well be that this is a business worth popping on the watching, given the continuing positive reception, over time, from the market. 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 instance, we've identified 2 warning signs for Systemax (1 shouldn't be ignored) that you should be aware of.
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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