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Is HCA Healthcare's (NYSE:HCA) Share Price Gain Of 167% Well Earned?

Simply Wall St

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When you buy shares in a company, it's worth keeping in mind the possibility that it could fail, and you could lose your money. But on the bright side, you can make far more than 100% on a really good stock. One great example is HCA Healthcare, Inc. (NYSE:HCA) which saw its share price drive 167% higher over five years. The last week saw the share price soften some 1.7%.

See our latest analysis for HCA Healthcare

To quote Buffett, 'Ships will sail around the world but the Flat Earth Society will flourish. There will continue to be wide discrepancies between price and value in the marketplace...' 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 half a decade, HCA Healthcare managed to grow its earnings per share at 26% a year. So the EPS growth rate is rather close to the annualized share price gain of 22% per year. Therefore one could conclude that sentiment towards the shares hasn't morphed very much. In fact, the share price seems to largely reflect the EPS growth.

You can see below how EPS has changed over time (discover the exact values by clicking on the image).

NYSE:HCA Past and Future Earnings, April 1st 2019

We know that HCA Healthcare 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. It's fair to say that the TSR gives a more complete picture for stocks that pay a dividend. As it happens, HCA Healthcare's TSR for the last 5 years was 171%, 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 HCA Healthcare shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 38% over the last year. That's including the dividend. That's better than the annualised return of 22% over half a decade, implying that the company is doing better recently. Someone with an optimistic perspective could view the recent improvement in TSR as indicating that the business itself is getting better with time. If you would like to research HCA Healthcare in more detail then you might want to take a look at whether insiders have been buying or selling shares in the company.

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 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.