It might seem bad, but the worst that can happen when you buy a stock (without leverage) is that its share price goes to zero. But when you pick a company that is really flourishing, you can make more than 100%. For instance the LPL Financial Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ:LPLA) share price is 132% higher than it was three years ago. Most would be happy with that. Also pleasing for shareholders was the 23% gain in the last three months. This could be related to the recent financial results, released recently - you can catch up on the most recent data by reading our company report.
In his essay The Superinvestors of Graham-and-Doddsville Warren Buffett described how share prices do not always rationally reflect the value of a business. 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.
During three years of share price growth, LPL Financial Holdings achieved compound earnings per share growth of 50% per year. The average annual share price increase of 32% is actually lower than the EPS growth. So it seems investors have become more cautious about the company, over time.
You can see below how EPS has changed over time (discover the exact values by clicking on the image).
It is of course excellent to see how LPL Financial Holdings has grown profits over the years, but the future is more important for shareholders. It might be well worthwhile taking a look at our free report on how its financial position has changed over time.
What About Dividends?
When looking at investment returns, it is important to consider the difference between total shareholder return (TSR) and share price return. The TSR incorporates the value of any spin-offs or discounted capital raisings, along with any dividends, based on the assumption that the dividends are reinvested. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. In the case of LPL Financial Holdings, it has a TSR of 144% 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
It's good to see that LPL Financial Holdings has rewarded shareholders with a total shareholder return of 40% in the last twelve months. Of course, that includes the dividend. Since the one-year TSR is better than the five-year TSR (the latter coming in at 18% per year), it would seem that the stock's performance has improved in recent times. Someone with an optimistic perspective could view the recent improvement in TSR as indicating that the business itself is getting better with time. Before spending more time on LPL Financial Holdings it might be wise to click here to see if insiders have been buying or selling shares.
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.
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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.