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It might be of some concern to shareholders to see the Energy Recovery, Inc. (NASDAQ:ERII) share price down 12% in the last month. But that scarcely detracts from the really solid long term returns generated by the company over five years. It's fair to say most would be happy with 206% the gain in that time. To some, the recent pullback wouldn't be surprising after such a fast rise. Of course, that doesn't necessarily mean it's cheap now. While the long term returns are impressive, we do have some sympathy for those who bought more recently, given the 34% drop, in the last year.
While the efficient markets hypothesis continues to be taught by some, it has been proven that markets are over-reactive dynamic systems, and investors are not always rational. One flawed but reasonable way to assess how sentiment around a company has changed is to compare the earnings per share (EPS) with the share price.
During the five years of share price growth, Energy Recovery moved from a loss to profitability. 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. We can see that the Energy Recovery share price is down 1.5% in the last three years. In the same period, EPS is up 35% per year. It would appear there's a real mismatch between the increasing EPS and the share price, which has declined -0.5% a year for three years.
The image below shows how EPS has tracked over time (if you click on the image you can see greater detail).
It's probably worth noting that the CEO is paid less than the median at similar sized companies. But while CEO remuneration is always worth checking, the really important question is whether the company can grow earnings going forward. This free interactive report on Energy Recovery's earnings, revenue and cash flow is a great place to start, if you want to investigate the stock further.
A Different Perspective
Energy Recovery shareholders are down 34% for the year, but the market itself is up 10%. 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. Longer term investors wouldn't be so upset, since they would have made 25%, each year, over five years. If the fundamental data continues to indicate long term sustainable growth, the current sell-off could be an opportunity worth considering. 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. Like risks, for instance. Every company has them, and we've spotted 4 warning signs for Energy Recovery (of which 1 makes us a bit uncomfortable!) you should know about.
We will like Energy Recovery better if we see some big insider buys. While we wait, check out this free list of growing companies with considerable, recent, insider buying.
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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