The worst result, after buying shares in a company (assuming no leverage), would be if you lose all the money you put in. But on the bright side, you can make far more than 100% on a really good stock. For example, the Walker & Dunlop, Inc. (NYSE:WD) share price has soared 116% in the last half decade. Most would be very happy with that. Also pleasing for shareholders was the 28% gain in the last three months.
There is no denying that markets are sometimes efficient, but prices do not always reflect underlying business performance. By comparing earnings per share (EPS) and share price changes over time, we can get a feel for how investor attitudes to a company have morphed over time.
Over half a decade, Walker & Dunlop managed to grow its earnings per share at 22% a year. This EPS growth is higher than the 17% average annual increase in the share price. So it seems the market isn't so enthusiastic about the stock these days. This cautious sentiment is reflected in its (fairly low) P/E ratio of 9.31.
The graphic below depicts how EPS has changed over time (unveil the exact values by clicking on the image).
It's good to see that there was some significant insider buying in the last three months. That's a positive. On the other hand, we think the revenue and earnings trends are much more meaningful measures of the business. This free interactive report on Walker & Dunlop's earnings, revenue and cash flow is a great place to start, if you want to investigate the stock further.
What About Dividends?
As well as measuring the share price return, investors should also consider the total shareholder return (TSR). 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. It's fair to say that the TSR gives a more complete picture for stocks that pay a dividend. We note that for Walker & Dunlop the TSR over the last 5 years was 129%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. And there's no prize for guessing that the dividend payments largely explain the divergence!
A Different Perspective
Walker & Dunlop shareholders are up 4.5% for the year (even including dividends). But that was short of the market average. If we look back over five years, the returns are even better, coming in at 18% per year for five years. Maybe the share price is just taking a breather while the business executes on its growth strategy. 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. For example, we've discovered 1 warning sign for Walker & Dunlop that you should be aware of before investing here.
Walker & Dunlop is not the only stock that insiders are buying. For those who like to find winning investments this free list of growing companies with recent insider purchasing, could be just the ticket.
Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on US 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.
Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email email@example.com.