By buying an index fund, investors can approximate the average market return. But many of us dare to dream of bigger returns, and build a portfolio ourselves. For example, the Gesco SE (ETR:GSC1) share price is up 45% in the last three years, clearly besting the market decline of around 1.9% (not including dividends).
Let's take a look at the underlying fundamentals over the longer term, and see if they've been consistent with shareholders returns.
To paraphrase Benjamin Graham: Over the short term the market is a voting machine, but over the long term it's a weighing machine. By comparing earnings per share (EPS) and share price changes over time, we can get a feel for how investor attitudes to a company have morphed over time.
During three years of share price growth, Gesco achieved compound earnings per share growth of 25% per year. The average annual share price increase of 13% is actually lower than the EPS growth. So it seems investors have become more cautious about the company, over time. This cautious sentiment is reflected in its (fairly low) P/E ratio of 8.47.
The company's earnings per share (over time) is depicted in the image below (click to see the exact numbers).
It might be well worthwhile taking a look at our free report on Gesco's earnings, revenue and cash flow.
What About Dividends?
As well as measuring the share price return, investors should also consider the total shareholder return (TSR). 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. As it happens, Gesco's TSR for the last 3 years was 53%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. And there's no prize for guessing that the dividend payments largely explain the divergence!
A Different Perspective
While the broader market lost about 3.4% in the twelve months, Gesco shareholders did even worse, losing 8.9% (even including dividends). Having said that, it's inevitable that some stocks will be oversold in a falling market. The key is to keep your eyes on the fundamental developments. Regrettably, last year's performance caps off a bad run, with the shareholders facing a total loss of 0.1% per year over five years. We realise that Baron Rothschild has said investors should "buy when there is blood on the streets", but we caution that investors should first be sure they are buying a high quality business. It's always interesting to track share price performance over the longer term. But to understand Gesco better, we need to consider many other factors. Consider for instance, the ever-present spectre of investment risk. We've identified 1 warning sign with Gesco , and understanding them should be part of your investment process.
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 German 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.
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