Passive investing in index funds can generate returns that roughly match the overall market. But you can do a lot better than that by buying good quality businesses for attractive prices. For example, the Heidrick & Struggles International, Inc. (NASDAQ:HSII) share price is up 49% in the last five years, slightly above the market return. Zooming in, the stock is actually down 15% in the last year.
To paraphrase Benjamin Graham: Over the short term the market is a voting machine, but over the long term it's a weighing machine. 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 the five years of share price growth, Heidrick & Struggles International moved from a loss to profitability. That's generally thought to be a genuine positive, so we would expect to see an increasing share price.
The company's earnings per share (over time) is depicted in the image below (click to see the exact numbers).
It is of course excellent to see how Heidrick & Struggles International has grown profits over the years, but the future is more important for shareholders. It might be well worthwhile taking a look at our free report on how its financial position has changed over time.
What About Dividends?
When looking at investment returns, it is important to consider the difference between total shareholder return (TSR) and share price return. The TSR is a return calculation that accounts for the value of cash dividends (assuming that any dividend received was reinvested) and the calculated value of any discounted capital raisings and spin-offs. It's fair to say that the TSR gives a more complete picture for stocks that pay a dividend. We note that for Heidrick & Struggles International the TSR over the last 5 years was 66%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!
A Different Perspective
Heidrick & Struggles International shareholders are down 14% for the year (even including dividends) , but the market itself is up 16%. However, keep in mind that even the best stocks will sometimes underperform the market over a twelve month period. Longer term investors wouldn't be so upset, since they would have made 11%, each year, over five years. It could be that the recent sell-off is an opportunity, so it may be worth checking the fundamental data for signs of a long term growth trend. Is Heidrick & Struggles International cheap compared to other companies? These 3 valuation measures might help you decide.
If you like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).
Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on US exchanges.
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.
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