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The main point of investing for the long term is to make money. Better yet, you'd like to see the share price move up more than the market average. Unfortunately for shareholders, while the Mueller Water Products, Inc. (NYSE:MWA) share price is up 30% in the last five years, that's less than the market return. Looking at the last year alone, the stock is up 7.5%.
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 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 five years of share price growth, Mueller Water Products achieved compound earnings per share (EPS) growth of 42% per year. The EPS growth is more impressive than the yearly share price gain of 5% over the same period. Therefore, it seems the market has become relatively pessimistic about the company.
The image below shows how EPS has tracked over time (if you click on the image you can see greater detail).
We like that insiders have been buying shares in the last twelve months. Having said that, most people consider earnings and revenue growth trends to be a more meaningful guide to the business. Before buying or selling a stock, we always recommend a close examination of historic growth trends, available here..
What About Dividends?
As well as measuring the share price return, investors should also consider the total shareholder return (TSR). 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. In the case of Mueller Water Products, it has a TSR of 41% for the last 5 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
Mueller Water Products provided a TSR of 9.7% over the last twelve months. Unfortunately this falls short of the market return. The silver lining is that the gain was actually better than the average annual return of 7% per year over five year. It is possible that returns will improve along with the business fundamentals. While it is well worth considering the different impacts that market conditions can have on the share price, there are other factors that are even more important. Even so, be aware that Mueller Water Products is showing 1 warning sign in our investment analysis , you should know about...
Mueller Water Products is not the only stock insiders are buying. So take a peek at this free list of growing companies with insider buying.
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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