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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. Unfortunately for shareholders, while the La-Z-Boy Incorporated (NYSE:LZB) share price is up 22% in the last three years, that falls short of the market return. In the last year the stock has gained 11%.
There is no denying that markets are sometimes efficient, but prices do not always reflect underlying business performance. One flawed but reasonable way to assess how sentiment around a company has changed is to compare the earnings per share (EPS) with the share price.
La-Z-Boy was able to grow its EPS at 13% per year over three years, sending the share price higher. The average annual share price increase of 6.8% is actually lower than the EPS growth. So it seems investors have become more cautious about the company, over time.
You can see how EPS has changed over time in the image below (click on the chart to see the exact values).
We know that La-Z-Boy has improved its bottom line lately, but is it going to grow revenue? This free report showing analyst revenue forecasts should help you figure out if the EPS growth can be sustained.
What About Dividends?
It is important to consider the total shareholder return, as well as the share price return, for any given stock. 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. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. As it happens, La-Z-Boy's TSR for the last 3 years was 28%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!
A Different Perspective
It's nice to see that La-Z-Boy shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 13% over the last year. Of course, that includes the dividend. That's better than the annualised return of 5.2% 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. If you would like to research La-Z-Boy in more detail then you might want to take a look at whether insiders have been buying or selling shares in the company.
We will like La-Z-Boy 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 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 email@example.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.