If you want to compound wealth in the stock market, you can do so by buying an index fund. But the truth is, you can make significant gains if you buy good quality businesses at the right price. For example, the Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co. (NYSE:RS) share price is up 59% in the last five years, slightly above the market return. It's also good to see that the stock is up 19% in a 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 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).
During five years of share price growth, Reliance Steel & Aluminum achieved compound earnings per share (EPS) growth of 15% per year. The EPS growth is more impressive than the yearly share price gain of 9.7% over the same period. So one could conclude that the broader market has become more cautious towards the stock. The reasonably low P/E ratio of 11.12 also suggests market apprehension.
You can see how EPS has changed over time in the image below (click on the chart to see the exact values).
Before buying or selling a stock, we always recommend a close examination of historic growth trends, available here..
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. It's fair to say that the TSR gives a more complete picture for stocks that pay a dividend. We note that for Reliance Steel & Aluminum the TSR over the last 5 years was 79%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.
A Different Perspective
It's good to see that Reliance Steel & Aluminum has rewarded shareholders with a total shareholder return of 22% in the last twelve months. And that does include the dividend. That's better than the annualised return of 12% over half a decade, implying that the company is doing better recently. Given the share price momentum remains strong, it might be worth taking a closer look at the stock, lest you miss an opportunity. Most investors take the time to check the data on insider transactions. You can click here to see if insiders have been buying or selling.
But note: Reliance Steel & Aluminum 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 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. Thank you for reading.