Stock pickers are generally looking for stocks that will outperform the broader market. Buying under-rated businesses is one path to excess returns. To wit, the Nanometrics share price has climbed 89% in five years, easily topping the market return of 43% (ignoring dividends).
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 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, Nanometrics moved from a loss to profitability. That would generally be considered a positive, so we'd expect the share price to be up. Given that the company made a profit three years ago, but not five years ago, it is worth looking at the share price returns over the last three years, too. We can see that the Nanometrics share price is up 48% in the last three years. During the same period, EPS grew by 53% each year. This EPS growth is higher than the 14% average annual increase in the share price over the same three years. Therefore, it seems the market has moderated its expectations for growth, somewhat.
You can see below how EPS has changed over time (discover the exact values by clicking on the image).
It is of course excellent to see how Nanometrics has grown profits over the years, but the future is more important for shareholders. This free interactive report on Nanometrics's balance sheet strength is a great place to start, if you want to investigate the stock further.
A Different Perspective
Investors in Nanometrics had a tough year, with a total loss of 16%, against a market gain of about 4.2%. Even the share prices of good stocks drop sometimes, but we want to see improvements in the fundamental metrics of a business, before getting too interested. On the bright side, long term shareholders have made money, with a gain of 14% per year over half a decade. 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. 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.
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.
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.