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Unless you borrow money to invest, the potential losses are limited. But if you pick the right business to buy shares in, you can make more than you can lose. Take, for example La-Z-Boy Incorporated (NYSE:LZB). Its share price is already up an impressive 127% in the last twelve months. On top of that, the share price is up 14% in about a quarter. But this could be related to the strong market, which is up 8.8% in the last three months. It is also impressive that the stock is up 49% over three years, adding to the sense that it is a real winner.
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.
Over the last twelve months, La-Z-Boy actually shrank its EPS by 5.7%.
So we don't think that investors are paying too much attention to EPS. Since the change in EPS doesn't seem to correlate with the change in share price, it's worth taking a look at other metrics.
We are skeptical of the suggestion that the 1.3% dividend yield would entice buyers to the stock. La-Z-Boy's revenue actually dropped 12% 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.
The company's revenue and earnings (over time) are depicted in the image below (click to see the exact numbers).
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. 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 La-Z-Boy, it has a TSR of 129% for the last year. 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
We're pleased to report that La-Z-Boy shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 129% over one year. That's including the dividend. Since the one-year TSR is better than the five-year TSR (the latter coming in at 13% 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. It's always interesting to track share price performance over the longer term. But to understand La-Z-Boy better, we need to consider many other factors. For instance, we've identified 2 warning signs for La-Z-Boy that you should be aware of.
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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