Generally speaking the aim of active stock picking is to find companies that provide returns that are superior to the market average. Buying under-rated businesses is one path to excess returns. For example, long term Casey's General Stores, Inc. (NASDAQ:CASY) shareholders have enjoyed a 94% share price rise over the last half decade, well in excess of the market return of around 41% (not including dividends). On the other hand, the more recent gains haven't been so impressive, with shareholders gaining just 33%, including dividends.
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There is no denying that markets are sometimes efficient, but prices do not always reflect underlying business performance. 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.
Over half a decade, Casey's General Stores managed to grow its earnings per share at 11% a year. This EPS growth is slower than the share price growth of 14% per year, over the same period. This suggests that market participants hold the company in higher regard, these days. That's not necessarily surprising considering the five-year track record of earnings growth.
You can see below how EPS has changed over time (discover the exact values by clicking on the image).
It's probably worth noting that the CEO is paid less than the median at similar sized companies. But while CEO remuneration is always worth checking, the really important question is whether the company can grow earnings going forward. This free interactive report on Casey's General Stores'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). 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. We note that for Casey's General Stores the TSR over the last 5 years was 103%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!
A Different Perspective
It's nice to see that Casey's General Stores shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 33% over the last year. That's including the dividend. Since the one-year TSR is better than the five-year TSR (the latter coming in at 15% per year), it would seem that the stock's performance has improved in recent times. 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 Casey's General Stores it might be wise to click here to see if insiders have been buying or selling shares.
But note: Casey's General Stores may not be the best stock to buy. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with past earnings growth (and further growth forecast).
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 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. Thank you for reading.