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Diversification is a key tool for dealing with stock price volatility. But if you're going to beat the market overall, you need to have individual stocks that outperform. One such company is American Campus Communities, Inc. (NYSE:ACC), which saw its share price increase 41% in the last year, slightly above the market return of around 36% (not including dividends). Having said that, the longer term returns aren't so impressive, with stock gaining just 22% in three years.
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 the last year, American Campus Communities actually saw its earnings per share drop 92%.
This means it's unlikely the market is judging the company based on earnings growth. Therefore, it seems likely that investors are putting more weight on metrics other than EPS, at the moment.
American Campus Communities' revenue actually dropped 4.5% over last year. So using a snapshot of key business metrics doesn't give us a good picture of why the market is bidding up the stock.
You can see below how earnings and revenue have changed over time (discover the exact values by clicking on the image).
You can see how its balance sheet has strengthened (or weakened) over time in this free interactive graphic.
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 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. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. As it happens, American Campus Communities' TSR for the last year was 48%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.
A Different Perspective
We're pleased to report that American Campus Communities shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 48% over one year. And that does include the dividend. Since the one-year TSR is better than the five-year TSR (the latter coming in at 3% per year), it would seem that the stock's performance has improved in recent times. Given the share price momentum remains strong, it might be worth taking a closer look at the stock, lest you miss an opportunity. 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. Case in point: We've spotted 3 warning signs for American Campus Communities you should be aware of, and 1 of them can't be ignored.
Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking elsewhere. So take a peek at this free list of companies we expect will 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.
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. 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.
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