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Does Applus Services's (BME:APPS) Share Price Gain of 37% Match Its Business Performance?

Simply Wall St

By buying an index fund, you can roughly match the market return with ease. But many of us dare to dream of bigger returns, and build a portfolio ourselves. Just take a look at Applus Services, S.A. (BME:APPS), which is up 37%, over three years, soundly beating the market return of 6.7% (not including dividends).

See our latest analysis for Applus Services

To paraphrase Benjamin Graham: Over the short term the market is a voting machine, but over the long term it's a weighing machine. 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.

During the three years of share price growth, Applus Services actually saw its earnings per share (EPS) drop 0.7% per year. Given the share price resilience, we don't think the (declining) EPS numbers are a good measure of how the business is moving forward, right now. So other metrics may hold the key to understanding what is influencing investors.

The modest 1.4% dividend yield is unlikely to be propping up the share price. The revenue drop of 0.5% is as underwhelming as some politicians. What's clear is that historic earnings and revenue aren't matching up with the share price action, very well. So you might have to dig deeper to get a grasp of the situation

The graphic below shows how revenue and earnings have changed as management guided the business forward. If you want to see cashflow, you can click on the chart.

BME:APPS Income Statement, April 19th 2019

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. This free report showing analyst forecasts should help you form a view on Applus Services

What About Dividends?

It is important to consider the total shareholder return, as well as the share price return, for any given stock. The TSR incorporates the value of any spin-offs or discounted capital raisings, along with any dividends, based on the assumption that the dividends are reinvested. It's fair to say that the TSR gives a more complete picture for stocks that pay a dividend. We note that for Applus Services the TSR over the last 3 years was 41%, 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

The last twelve months weren't great for Applus Services shares, which cost holders 0.8%, including dividends, while the market was up about 1.6%. However, keep in mind that even the best stocks will sometimes underperform the market over a twelve month period. Fortunately the longer term story is brighter, with total returns averaging about 12% per year over three years. The recent sell-off could be an opportunity if the business remains sound, so it may be worth checking the fundamental data for signs of a long-term growth trend. If you want to research this stock further, the data on insider buying is an obvious place to start. You can click here to see who has been buying shares - and the price they paid.

There are plenty of other companies that have insiders buying up shares. You probably do not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying.

Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on ES exchanges.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. 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. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.