By buying an index fund, investors can approximate the average market return. But if you choose individual stocks with prowess, you can make superior returns. Just take a look at Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Limited (HKG:1398), which is up 43%, over three years, soundly beating the market return of 25% (not including dividends).
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While the efficient markets hypothesis continues to be taught by some, it has been proven that markets are over-reactive dynamic systems, and investors are not always rational. One flawed but reasonable way to assess how sentiment around a company has changed is to compare the earnings per share (EPS) with the share price.
Industrial and Commercial Bank of China was able to grow its EPS at 2.5% per year over three years, sending the share price higher. In comparison, the 13% per year gain in the share price outpaces the EPS growth. This suggests that, as the business progressed over the last few years, it gained the confidence of market participants. It is quite common to see investors become enamoured with a business, after a few years of solid progress.
You can see how EPS has changed over time in the image below (click on the chart to see the exact values).
It's probably worth noting that the CEO is paid less than the median at similar sized companies. It's always worth keeping an eye on CEO pay, but a more important question is whether the company will grow earnings throughout the years. It might be well worthwhile taking a look at our free report on Industrial and Commercial Bank of China's earnings, revenue and cash flow.
What About Dividends?
It is important to consider the total shareholder return, as well as the share price return, for any given stock. 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. In the case of Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, it has a TSR of 69% 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
The total return of 14% received by Industrial and Commercial Bank of China shareholders over the last year isn't far from the market return of -13%. Longer term investors wouldn't be so upset, since they would have made 8.0%, each year, over five years. If the stock price has been impacted by changing sentiment, rather than deteriorating business conditions, it could spell opportunity. Keeping this in mind, a solid next step might be to take a look at Industrial and Commercial Bank of China's dividend track record. This free interactive graph is a great place to start.
We will like Industrial and Commercial Bank of China better if we see some big insider buys. While we wait, check out this free list of growing companies with considerable, recent, insider buying.
Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on HK 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.