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The Mesa Laboratories (NASDAQ:MLAB) Share Price Has Gained 204%, So Why Not Pay It Some Attention?

Simply Wall St

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When you buy shares in a company, it's worth keeping in mind the possibility that it could fail, and you could lose your money. But on a lighter note, a good company can see its share price rise well over 100%. One great example is Mesa Laboratories, Inc. (NASDAQ:MLAB) which saw its share price drive 204% higher over five years. Meanwhile the share price is 2.8% higher than it was a week ago.

View our latest analysis for Mesa Laboratories

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...' 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 the last half decade, Mesa Laboratories became profitable. 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).

NasdaqGS:MLAB Past and Future Earnings, May 3rd 2019

It's probably worth noting that the CEO is paid less than the median at similar sized companies. It's always worth keeping an eye on CEO pay, but a more important question is whether the company will grow earnings throughout the years. It might be well worthwhile taking a look at our free report on Mesa Laboratories's earnings, revenue and cash flow.

What About Dividends?

It is important to consider the total shareholder return, as well as the share price return, for any given stock. The TSR is a return calculation that accounts for the value of cash dividends (assuming that any dividend received was reinvested) and the calculated value of any discounted capital raisings and spin-offs. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. In the case of Mesa Laboratories, it has a TSR of 212% for the last 5 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

We're pleased to report that Mesa Laboratories shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 44% over one year. Of course, that includes the dividend. That gain is better than the annual TSR over five years, which is 26%. Therefore it seems like sentiment around the company has been positive lately. 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 Mesa Laboratories it might be wise to click here to see if insiders have been buying or selling shares.

If you are like me, then you will not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying.

Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on US exchanges.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.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.