The worst result, after buying shares in a company (assuming no leverage), would be if you lose all the money you put in. But in contrast you can make much more than 100% if the company does well. For example, the NatWest Group plc (LON:NWG) share price has soared 106% in the last three years. How nice for those who held the stock! In the last week the share price is up 2.6%.
Now it's worth having a look at the company's fundamentals too, because that will help us determine if the long term shareholder return has matched the performance of the underlying business.
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 three years of share price growth, NatWest Group achieved compound earnings per share growth of 141% per year. The average annual share price increase of 27% is actually lower than the EPS growth. Therefore, it seems the market has moderated its expectations for growth, somewhat. We'd venture the lowish P/E ratio of 4.90 also reflects the negative sentiment around the stock.
The graphic below depicts how EPS has changed over time (unveil the exact values by clicking on the image).
We like that insiders have been buying shares in the last twelve months. Even so, future earnings will be far more important to whether current shareholders make money. Dive deeper into the earnings by checking this interactive graph of NatWest Group's earnings, revenue and cash flow.
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. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. In the case of NatWest Group, it has a TSR of 154% for the last 3 years. That exceeds its share price return that we previously mentioned. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!
A Different Perspective
NatWest Group shareholders gained a total return of 8.4% during the year. Unfortunately this falls short of the market return. On the bright side, that's still a gain, and it's actually better than the average return of 4% over half a decade This suggests the company might be improving over time. 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. For example, we've discovered 2 warning signs for NatWest Group (1 is significant!) that you should be aware of before investing here.
If you like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).
Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on British exchanges.
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This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. 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.