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It might seem bad, but the worst that can happen when you buy a stock (without leverage) is that its share price goes to zero. But in contrast you can make much more than 100% if the company does well. For example, the Inspiration Healthcare Group plc (LON:IHC) share price has soared 154% in the last three years. That sort of return is as solid as granite. Also pleasing for shareholders was the 54% gain in the last three months.
There is no denying that markets are sometimes efficient, but prices do not always reflect 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.
During three years of share price growth, Inspiration Healthcare Group achieved compound earnings per share growth of 28% per year. This EPS growth is lower than the 36% 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 three years ago. It is quite common to see investors become enamoured with a business, after a few years of solid progress.
You can see how EPS has changed over time in the image below (click on the chart to see the exact values).
It might be well worthwhile taking a look at our free report on Inspiration Healthcare Group's earnings, revenue and cash flow.
A Different Perspective
It's nice to see that Inspiration Healthcare Group shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 72% over the last year. That's including the dividend. That's better than the annualised return of 20% over half a decade, implying that the company is doing better recently. In the best case scenario, this may hint at some real business momentum, implying that now could be a great time to delve deeper. 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 learn about the 3 warning signs we've spotted with Inspiration Healthcare Group (including 1 which makes us a bit uncomfortable) .
If you would prefer to check out another company -- one with potentially superior financials -- then do not miss this free list of companies that have proven they can grow earnings.
Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on GB 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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