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Investors in DRDGOLD (NYSE:DRD) have made a massive return of 369% over the past three years

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DRDGOLD Limited (NYSE:DRD) shareholders have seen the share price descend 21% over the month. But that doesn't displace its brilliant performance over three years. Indeed, the share price is up a whopping 319% in that time. So the recent fall doesn't do much to dampen our respect for the business. The only way to form a view of whether the current price is justified is to consider the merits of the business itself.

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 DRDGOLD

While markets are a powerful pricing mechanism, share prices reflect investor sentiment, not just underlying business performance. 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.

DRDGOLD became profitable within the last three years. That kind of transition can be an inflection point that justifies a strong share price gain, just as we have seen here.

The image below shows how EPS has tracked over time (if you click on the image you can see greater detail).

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

It is of course excellent to see how DRDGOLD has grown profits over the years, but the future is more important for shareholders. Take a more thorough look at DRDGOLD's financial health with this free report on its balance sheet.

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. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. In the case of DRDGOLD, it has a TSR of 369% for the last 3 years. That exceeds its share price return that we previously mentioned. And there's no prize for guessing that the dividend payments largely explain the divergence!

A Different Perspective

While the broader market lost about 6.9% in the twelve months, DRDGOLD shareholders did even worse, losing 22% (even including dividends). 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 18%, each year, over five years. If the fundamental data continues to indicate long term sustainable growth, the current sell-off could be an opportunity worth considering. I find it very interesting to look at share price over the long term as a proxy for business performance. But to truly gain insight, we need to consider other information, too. For example, we've discovered 3 warning signs for DRDGOLD (1 is a bit unpleasant!) that you should be aware of before investing here.

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.