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When you buy and hold a stock for the long term, you definitely want it to provide a positive return. Better yet, you'd like to see the share price move up more than the market average. But Western Digital Corporation (NASDAQ:WDC) has fallen short of that second goal, with a share price rise of 36% over five years, which is below the market return. Some buyers are laughing, though, with an increase of 24% in the last year.
To quote Buffett, 'Ships will sail around the world but the Flat Earth Society will flourish. There will continue to be wide discrepancies between price and value in the marketplace...' 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, Western Digital moved from a loss to profitability. That's generally thought to be a genuine positive, so we would expect to see an increasing share price.
The image below shows how EPS has tracked over time (if you click on the image you can see greater detail).
We know that Western Digital has improved its bottom line lately, but is it going to grow revenue? If you're interested, you could check this free report showing consensus revenue forecasts.
What about the Total Shareholder Return (TSR)?
We'd be remiss not to mention the difference between Western Digital's total shareholder return (TSR) and its share price return. The TSR is a return calculation that accounts for the value of cash dividends (assuming that any dividend received was reinvested) and the calculated value of any discounted capital raisings and spin-offs. Its history of dividend payouts mean that Western Digital's TSR of 58% over the last 5 years is better than the share price return.
A Different Perspective
Western Digital shareholders are up 26% for the year. But that was short of the market average. The silver lining is that the gain was actually better than the average annual return of 10% per year over five year. It is possible that returns will improve along with the business fundamentals. 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 example, we've discovered 3 warning signs for Western Digital (1 is a bit unpleasant!) that you should be aware of before investing here.
If you would prefer to check out another company -- one with potentially superior financials -- then do not miss this free list of companies that have proven they can 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.
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