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Does CF Industries Holdings's (NYSE:CF) Share Price Gain of 51% Match Its Business Performance?

Simply Wall St

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By buying an index fund, investors can approximate the average market return. But many of us dare to dream of bigger returns, and build a portfolio ourselves. For example, the CF Industries Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:CF) share price is up 51% in the last three years, clearly besting than the market return of around 39% (not including dividends). However, more recent returns haven't been as impressive as that, with the stock returning just 8.2% in the last year, including dividends.

See our latest analysis for CF Industries Holdings

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.

Over the last three years, CF Industries Holdings failed to grow earnings per share, which fell 13% (annualized). So we doubt that the market is looking to EPS for its main judge of the company's value. Given this situation, it makes sense to look at other metrics too.

It may well be that CF Industries Holdings revenue growth rate of 3.5% over three years has convinced shareholders to believe in a brighter future. In that case, the company may be sacrificing current earnings per share to drive growth, and maybe shareholder's faith in better days ahead will be rewarded.

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.

NYSE:CF Income Statement, May 11th 2019

CF Industries Holdings is well known by investors, and plenty of clever analysts have tried to predict the future profit levels. Given we have quite a good number of analyst forecasts, it might be well worth checking out this free chart depicting consensus estimates.

What About Dividends?

As well as measuring the share price return, investors should also consider the total shareholder return (TSR). 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. Arguably, the TSR gives a more comprehensive picture of the return generated by a stock. In the case of CF Industries Holdings, it has a TSR of 66% for the last 3 years. That exceeds its share price return that we previously mentioned. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.

A Different Perspective

We're pleased to report that CF Industries Holdings shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 8.2% over one year. Of course, that includes the dividend. That's better than the annualised return of 0.1% over half a decade, implying that the company is doing better recently. Given the share price momentum remains strong, it might be worth taking a closer look at the stock, lest you miss an opportunity. Before spending more time on CF Industries Holdings it might be wise to click here to see if insiders have been buying or selling shares.

For those who like to find winning investments this free list of growing companies with recent insider purchasing, could be just the ticket.

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