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Investing in Federal Signal (NYSE:FSS) five years ago would have delivered you a 195% gain

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  • FSS

The most you can lose on any stock (assuming you don't use leverage) is 100% of your money. But on the bright side, if you buy shares in a high quality company at the right price, you can gain well over 100%. One great example is Federal Signal Corporation (NYSE:FSS) which saw its share price drive 178% higher over five years. It's down 2.7% in the last seven days.

With that in mind, it's worth seeing if the company's underlying fundamentals have been the driver of long term performance, or if there are some discrepancies.

Check out our latest analysis for Federal Signal

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).

During five years of share price growth, Federal Signal achieved compound earnings per share (EPS) growth of 19% per year. This EPS growth is reasonably close to the 23% average annual increase in the share price. That suggests that the market sentiment around the company hasn't changed much over that time. Indeed, it would appear the share price is reacting to the EPS.

You can see how EPS has changed over time in the image below (click on the chart to see the exact values).

earnings-per-share-growth
earnings-per-share-growth

Before buying or selling a stock, we always recommend a close examination of historic growth trends, available here.

What About Dividends?

When looking at investment returns, it is important to consider the difference between total shareholder return (TSR) and share price return. Whereas the share price return only reflects the change in the share price, the TSR includes the value of dividends (assuming they were reinvested) and the benefit of any discounted capital raising or spin-off. It's fair to say that the TSR gives a more complete picture for stocks that pay a dividend. As it happens, Federal Signal's TSR for the last 5 years was 195%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.

A Different Perspective

It's good to see that Federal Signal has rewarded shareholders with a total shareholder return of 39% in the last twelve months. Of course, that includes the dividend. That gain is better than the annual TSR over five years, which is 24%. Therefore it seems like sentiment around the company has been positive lately. In the best case scenario, this may hint at some real business momentum, implying that now could be a great time to delve deeper. If you would like to research Federal Signal in more detail then you might want to take a look at whether insiders have been buying or selling shares in the company.

If you like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).

Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on US exchanges.

This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.