When you buy shares in a company, it's worth keeping in mind the possibility that it could fail, and you could lose your money. But when you pick a company that is really flourishing, you can make more than 100%. One great example is Formpipe Software AB (publ) (STO:FPIP) which saw its share price drive 217% higher over five years. Then again, the 9.3% share price decline hasn't been so fun for shareholders.
While markets are a powerful pricing mechanism, share prices reflect investor sentiment, not just underlying business performance. 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 half a decade, Formpipe Software managed to grow its earnings per share at 16% a year. This EPS growth is lower than the 26% average annual increase in the share price. So it's fair to assume the market has a higher opinion of the business than it did five years ago. And that's hardly shocking given the track record of growth.
You can see below how EPS has changed over time (discover the exact values by clicking on the image).
We know that Formpipe Software has improved its bottom line over the last three years, but what does the future have in store? Take a more thorough look at Formpipe Software's financial health with this free report on its balance sheet.
What About Dividends?
When looking at investment returns, it is important to consider the difference between total shareholder return (TSR) and share price return. Whereas the share price return only reflects the change in the share price, the TSR includes the value of dividends (assuming they were reinvested) and the benefit of any discounted capital raising or spin-off. Arguably, the TSR gives a more comprehensive picture of the return generated by a stock. In the case of Formpipe Software, it has a TSR of 249% for the last 5 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
Investors in Formpipe Software had a tough year, with a total loss of 1.2% (including dividends) , against a market gain of about 25%. However, keep in mind that even the best stocks will sometimes underperform the market over a twelve month period. Longer term investors wouldn't be so upset, since they would have made 28%, 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. 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. To that end, you should be aware of the 1 warning sign we've spotted with Formpipe Software .
If you like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).
Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on SE exchanges.
If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
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