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If You Had Bought Wesfarmers (ASX:WES) Shares A Year Ago You'd Have A Total Return Of 15%

Simply Wall St

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It's understandable if you feel frustrated when a stock you own sees a lower share price. But in the short term the market is a voting machine, and the share price movements may not reflect the underlying business performance. The Wesfarmers Limited (ASX:WES) is down 24% over a year, but the total shareholder return is 15% once you include the dividend. That's better than the market which returned 12% over the last year. At least the damage isn't so bad if you look at the last three years, since the stock is down 7.9% in that time. The good news is that the stock is up 3.2% in the last week.

See our latest analysis for Wesfarmers

To paraphrase Benjamin Graham: Over the short term the market is a voting machine, but over the long term it's a weighing machine. 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.

During the unfortunate twelve months during which the Wesfarmers share price fell, it actually saw its earnings per share (EPS) improve by 62%. Of course, the situation might betray previous over-optimism about growth. It's surprising to see the share price fall so much, despite the improved EPS. So it's well worth checking out some other metrics, too.

We don't see any weakness in the Wesfarmers's dividend so the steady payout can't really explain the share price drop. The revenue trend doesn't seem to explain why the share price is down. Unless, of course, the market was expecting a revenue uptick.

The image below shows how earnings and revenue have tracked over time (if you click on the image you can see greater detail).

ASX:WES Income Statement, July 11th 2019

Wesfarmers is a well known stock, with plenty of analyst coverage, suggesting some visibility into future growth. So we recommend checking out this free report showing consensus forecasts

What About Dividends?

It is important to consider the total shareholder return, as well as the share price return, for any given stock. 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. In the case of Wesfarmers, it has a TSR of 15% for the last year. That exceeds its share price return that we previously mentioned. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!

A Different Perspective

We're pleased to report that Wesfarmers shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 15% over one year. That's including the dividend. Since the one-year TSR is better than the five-year TSR (the latter coming in at 9.9% 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. Importantly, we haven't analysed Wesfarmers's dividend history. This free visual report on its dividends is a must-read if you're thinking of 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 AU 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.