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If You Had Bought Apollo Commercial Real Estate Finance (NYSE:ARI) Stock Three Years Ago, You Could Pocket A 16% Gain Today

Simply Wall St

Buying a low-cost index fund will get you the average market return. But if you invest in individual stocks, some are likely to underperform. For example, the Apollo Commercial Real Estate Finance, Inc. (NYSE:ARI) share price return of 16% over three years lags the market return in the same period. Zooming in, the stock is up just 3.0% in the last year.

View our latest analysis for Apollo Commercial Real Estate Finance

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 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).

Over the last three years, Apollo Commercial Real Estate Finance failed to grow earnings per share, which fell 0.2% (annualized). Based on these numbers, we think that the decline in earnings per share may not be a good representation of how the business has changed over the years. Since the change in EPS doesn't seem to correlate with the change in share price, it's worth taking a look at other metrics.

We doubt the dividend payments explain the share price rise, since we don't see any improvement in that regard. But it's far more plausible that the revenue growth of 22% per year is viewed as evidence that Apollo Commercial Real Estate Finance is growing. It could be that investors are content with the revenue growth on the basis that the company isn't really focussed on profits just yet. And that might explain the higher price.

You can see how revenue and earnings have changed over time in the image below, (click on the chart to see cashflow).

NYSE:ARI Income Statement, April 17th 2019

It's probably worth noting that the CEO is paid less than the median at similar sized companies. It's always worth keeping an eye on CEO pay, but a more important question is whether the company will grow earnings throughout the years. If you are thinking of buying or selling Apollo Commercial Real Estate Finance stock, you should check out this free report showing analyst profit forecasts.

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. As it happens, Apollo Commercial Real Estate Finance's TSR for the last 3 years was 58%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.

A Different Perspective

It's nice to see that Apollo Commercial Real Estate Finance shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 14% over the last year. Of course, that includes the dividend. Since the one-year TSR is better than the five-year TSR (the latter coming in at 13% per year), it would seem that the stock's performance has improved in recent times. Someone with an optimistic perspective could view the recent improvement in TSR as indicating that the business itself is getting better with time. Before spending more time on Apollo Commercial Real Estate Finance it might be wise to click here to see if insiders have been buying or selling shares.

Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking elsewhere. So take a peek at this free list of companies we expect will grow earnings.

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.