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Investing in Timken (NYSE:TKR) three years ago would have delivered you a 40% gain

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It hasn't been the best quarter for The Timken Company (NYSE:TKR) shareholders, since the share price has fallen 13% in that time. In contrast the stock is up over the last three years. In that time, it is up 32%, which isn't bad, but not amazing either.

Let's take a look at the underlying fundamentals over the longer term, and see if they've been consistent with shareholders returns.

View our latest analysis for Timken

To quote Buffett, 'Ships will sail around the world but the Flat Earth Society will flourish. There will continue to be wide discrepancies between price and value in the marketplace...' 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.

Timken was able to grow its EPS at 7.1% per year over three years, sending the share price higher. This EPS growth is lower than the 10% average annual increase in the share price. So it's fair to assume the market has a higher opinion of the business than it did three years ago. It's not unusual to see the market 're-rate' a stock, after a few years of growth.

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

We know that Timken has improved its bottom line lately, but is it going to grow revenue? Check if analysts think Timken will grow revenue in the future.

What About Dividends?

As well as measuring the share price return, investors should also consider the total shareholder return (TSR). The TSR is a return calculation that accounts for the value of cash dividends (assuming that any dividend received was reinvested) and the calculated value of any discounted capital raisings and spin-offs. It's fair to say that the TSR gives a more complete picture for stocks that pay a dividend. In the case of Timken, it has a TSR of 40% for the last 3 years. That exceeds its share price return that we previously mentioned. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.

A Different Perspective

We regret to report that Timken shareholders are down 31% for the year (even including dividends). Unfortunately, that's worse than the broader market decline of 11%. However, it could simply be that the share price has been impacted by broader market jitters. It might be worth keeping an eye on the fundamentals, in case there's a good opportunity. Longer term investors wouldn't be so upset, since they would have made 7%, each year, over five years. 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. While it is well worth considering the different impacts that market conditions can have on the share price, there are other factors that are even more important. For instance, we've identified 1 warning sign for Timken that you should be aware of.

If you would prefer to check out another company -- one with potentially superior financials -- then do not miss this free list of companies that have proven they can grow earnings.

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

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

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.