Medifast, Inc. (NYSE:MED) shareholders might be concerned after seeing the share price drop 19% in the last month. But that doesn't change the fact that shareholders have received really good returns over the last five years. Indeed, the share price is up an impressive 197% in that time. So while it's never fun to see a share price fall, it's important to look at a longer time horizon. Only time will tell if there is still too much optimism currently reflected in the share price. While the long term returns are impressive, we do have some sympathy for those who bought more recently, given the 38% drop, in the last year.
In his essay The Superinvestors of Graham-and-Doddsville Warren Buffett described how share prices do not always rationally reflect the value of a business. 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, Medifast managed to grow its earnings per share at 25% a year. That makes the EPS growth particularly close to the yearly share price growth of 24%. 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).
We know that Medifast has improved its bottom line over the last three years, but what does the future have in store? Take a more thorough look at Medifast's financial health with this free report on its balance sheet.
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. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. As it happens, Medifast's TSR for the last 5 years was 228%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. And there's no prize for guessing that the dividend payments largely explain the divergence!
A Different Perspective
Medifast shareholders are down 36% for the year (even including dividends) , but the market itself is up 17%. However, keep in mind that even the best stocks will sometimes underperform the market over a twelve month period. On the bright side, long term shareholders have made money, with a gain of 27% per year over half a decade. If the fundamental data continues to indicate long term sustainable growth, the current sell-off could be an opportunity worth considering. Before spending more time on Medifast it might be wise to click here to see if insiders have been buying or selling shares.
If you are like me, then you will not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are 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 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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