Middlesex Water Company (NASDAQ:MSEX) shareholders might be concerned after seeing the share price drop 20% in the last month. But that doesn't change the fact that the returns over the last five years have been very strong. It's fair to say most would be happy with 150% the gain in that time. To some, the recent pullback wouldn't be surprising after such a fast rise. The more important question is whether the stock is too cheap or too expensive today.
To paraphrase Benjamin Graham: Over the short term the market is a voting machine, but over the long term it's a weighing machine. One way to examine how market sentiment has changed over time is to look at the interaction between a company's share price and its earnings per share (EPS).
Over half a decade, Middlesex Water managed to grow its earnings per share at 12% a year. This EPS growth is lower than the 20% average annual increase in the share price. This suggests that market participants hold the company in higher regard, these days. That's not necessarily surprising considering the five-year track record of earnings growth.
The graphic below depicts how EPS has changed over time (unveil the exact values by clicking on the image).
It's probably worth noting that the CEO is paid less than the median at similar sized companies. But while CEO remuneration is always worth checking, the really important question is whether the company can grow earnings going forward. It might be well worthwhile taking a look at our free report on Middlesex Water'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. Arguably, the TSR gives a more comprehensive picture of the return generated by a stock. We note that for Middlesex Water the TSR over the last 5 years was 180%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.
A Different Perspective
Although it hurts that Middlesex Water returned a loss of 3.3% in the last twelve months, the broader market was actually worse, returning a loss of 4.5%. Of course, the long term returns are far more important and the good news is that over five years, the stock has returned 23% for each year. In the best case scenario the last year is just a temporary blip on the journey to a brighter future. It's always interesting to track share price performance over the longer term. But to understand Middlesex Water better, we need to consider many other factors. Even so, be aware that Middlesex Water is showing 2 warning signs in our investment analysis , and 1 of those doesn't sit too well with us...
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.
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.
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