Generally speaking the aim of active stock picking is to find companies that provide returns that are superior to the market average. And in our experience, buying the right stocks can give your wealth a significant boost. For example, long term Aqua America, Inc. (NYSE:WTR) shareholders have enjoyed a 74% share price rise over the last half decade, well in excess of the market return of around 53% (not including dividends). On the other hand, the more recent gains haven't been so impressive, with shareholders gaining just 41% , including dividends .
While the efficient markets hypothesis continues to be taught by some, it has been proven that markets are over-reactive dynamic systems, and investors are not always rational. 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 five years of share price growth, Aqua America actually saw its EPS drop 8.3% per year.
Essentially, it doesn't seem likely that investors are focused on EPS. Since the change in EPS doesn't seem to correlate with the change in share price, it's worth taking a look at other metrics.
The revenue growth of 1.6% per year hardly seems impressive. So it seems one might have to take closer look at earnings and revenue trends to see how they might influence the share price.
You can see below how earnings and revenue have changed over time (discover the exact values by clicking on the image).
We're pleased to report that the CEO is remunerated more modestly than most CEOs at similarly capitalized companies. It's always worth keeping an eye on CEO pay, but a more important question is whether the company will grow earnings throughout the years. This free report showing analyst forecasts should help you form a view on Aqua America
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 incorporates the value of any spin-offs or discounted capital raisings, along with any dividends, based on the assumption that the dividends are reinvested. Arguably, the TSR gives a more comprehensive picture of the return generated by a stock. As it happens, Aqua America's TSR for the last 5 years was 96%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!
A Different Perspective
We're pleased to report that Aqua America shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 41% over one year. That's including the dividend. That gain is better than the annual TSR over five years, which is 14%. Therefore it seems like sentiment around the company has been positive lately. Given the share price momentum remains strong, it might be worth taking a closer look at the stock, lest you miss an opportunity. Before spending more time on Aqua America it might be wise to click here to see if insiders have been buying or selling shares.
We will like Aqua America 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.
If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
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. Thank you for reading.