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Ferguson (LON:FERG) Shareholders Booked A 73% Gain In The Last Five Years

Generally speaking the aim of active stock picking is to find companies that provide returns that are superior to the market average. And while active stock picking involves risks (and requires diversification) it can also provide excess returns. For example, long term Ferguson plc (LON:FERG) shareholders have enjoyed a 73% share price rise over the last half decade, well in excess of the market return of around 3.1% (not including dividends).

View our latest analysis for Ferguson

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 five years of share price growth, Ferguson achieved compound earnings per share (EPS) growth of 10% per year. So the EPS growth rate is rather close to the annualized share price gain of 12% per year. Therefore one could conclude that sentiment towards the shares hasn't morphed very much. Rather, the share price has approximately tracked EPS growth.

The graphic below depicts how EPS has changed over time (unveil the exact values by clicking on the image).

LSE:FERG Past and Future Earnings, September 17th 2019
LSE:FERG Past and Future Earnings, September 17th 2019

This free interactive report on Ferguson's earnings, revenue and cash flow is a great place to start, if you want to investigate the stock further.

What About Dividends?

When looking at investment returns, it is important to consider the difference between total shareholder return (TSR) and share price return. 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. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. We note that for Ferguson the TSR over the last 5 years was 106%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.

A Different Perspective

While the broader market gained around 4.7% in the last year, Ferguson shareholders lost 1.3% (even including dividends). However, keep in mind that even the best stocks will sometimes underperform the market over a twelve month period. On the bright side, long term shareholders have made money, with a gain of 16% per year over half a decade. It could be that the recent sell-off is an opportunity, so it may be worth checking the fundamental data for signs of a long term growth trend. Is Ferguson cheap compared to other companies? These 3 valuation measures might help you decide.

We will like Ferguson 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 GB 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.