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The simplest way to invest in stocks is to buy exchange traded funds. But if you pick the right individual stocks, you could make more than that. For example, the Advance Auto Parts, Inc. (NYSE:AAP) share price is up 39% in the last year, clearly besting than the market return of around 8.5% (not including dividends). So that should have shareholders smiling. However, the longer term returns haven't been so impressive, with the stock up just 6.4% in the last three years.
There is no denying that markets are sometimes efficient, but prices do not always reflect underlying business performance. One way to examine how market sentiment has changed over time is to look at the interaction between a company's share price and its earnings per share (EPS).
During the last year, Advance Auto Parts actually saw its earnings per share drop 10%. Given the share price gain, we doubt the market is measuring progress with EPS. Indeed, when EPS is declining but the share price is up, it often means the market is considering other factors.
We are skeptical of the suggestion that the 0.1% dividend yield would entice buyers to the stock. Revenue was pretty stable on last year, so deeper research might be needed to explain the share price rise.
The chart below shows how revenue and earnings have changed with time, (if you click on the chart you can see the actual values).
We like that insiders have been buying shares in the last twelve months. Having said that, most people consider earnings and revenue growth trends to be a more meaningful guide to the business. If you are thinking of buying or selling Advance Auto Parts stock, you should check out this free report showing analyst profit forecasts.
A Different Perspective
It's nice to see that Advance Auto Parts shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 39% over the last year. That's including the dividend. That's better than the annualised return of 5.8% over half a decade, implying that the company is doing better recently. Someone with an optimistic perspective could view the recent improvement in TSR as indicating that the business itself is getting better with time. 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.
Advance Auto Parts is not the only stock insiders are buying. So take a peek at this free list of growing companies with 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.
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 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. Thank you for reading.