Walker & Dunlop, Inc. (NYSE:WD) shareholders might be concerned after seeing the share price drop 16% in the last month. But that doesn't undermine the rather lovely longer-term return, if you measure over the last three years. The share price marched upwards over that time, and is now 120% higher than it was. So the recent fall in the share price should be viewed in that context. The fundamental business performance will ultimately dictate whether the top is in, or if this is a stellar buying opportunity.
So let's assess the underlying fundamentals over the last 3 years and see if they've moved in lock-step with shareholder returns.
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 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.
During three years of share price growth, Walker & Dunlop achieved compound earnings per share growth of 3.6% per year. This EPS growth is lower than the 30% average annual increase in the share price. This indicates that the market is feeling more optimistic on the stock, after the last few years of progress. It's not unusual to see the market 're-rate' a stock, after a few years of growth.
The image below shows how EPS has tracked over time (if you click on the image you can see greater detail).
Dive deeper into Walker & Dunlop's key metrics by checking this interactive graph of Walker & Dunlop's earnings, revenue and cash flow.
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. Arguably, the TSR gives a more comprehensive picture of the return generated by a stock. We note that for Walker & Dunlop the TSR over the last 3 years was 135%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!
A Different Perspective
We regret to report that Walker & Dunlop shareholders are down 42% for the year (even including dividends). Unfortunately, that's worse than the broader market decline of 15%. 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. Longer term investors wouldn't be so upset, since they would have made 7%, 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. It's always interesting to track share price performance over the longer term. But to understand Walker & Dunlop better, we need to consider many other factors. To that end, you should be aware of the 3 warning signs we've spotted with Walker & Dunlop .
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 American 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.
Join A Paid User Research Session
You’ll receive a US$30 Amazon Gift card for 1 hour of your time while helping us build better investing tools for the individual investors like yourself. Sign up here