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 Northern Technologies International Corporation (NASDAQ:NTIC) share price has soared 102% in the last three years. Most would be happy with that. Also pleasing for shareholders was the 15% gain in the last three months. The company reported its financial results recently; you can catch up on the latest numbers by reading our company report.
While markets are a powerful pricing mechanism, share prices reflect investor sentiment, not just underlying business performance. One flawed but reasonable way to assess how sentiment around a company has changed is to compare the earnings per share (EPS) with the share price.
Northern Technologies International became profitable within the last three years. Given the importance of this milestone, it's not overly surprising that the share price has increased strongly.
The company's earnings per share (over time) is depicted in the image below (click to see the exact numbers).
It is of course excellent to see how Northern Technologies International has grown profits over the years, but the future is more important for shareholders. This free interactive report on Northern Technologies International's balance sheet strength is a great place to start, if you want to investigate the stock further.
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 incorporates the value of any spin-offs or discounted capital raisings, along with any dividends, based on the assumption that the dividends are reinvested. It's fair to say that the TSR gives a more complete picture for stocks that pay a dividend. In the case of Northern Technologies International, it has a TSR of 110% 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
Investors in Northern Technologies International had a tough year, with a total loss of 12% (including dividends) , against a market gain of about 21%. Even the share prices of good stocks drop sometimes, but we want to see improvements in the fundamental metrics of a business, before getting too interested. On the bright side, long term shareholders have made money, with a gain of 5.9% per year over half a decade. It could be that the recent sell-off is an opportunity, so it may be worth checking the fundamental data for signs of a long term growth trend. Before deciding if you like the current share price, check how Northern Technologies International scores on these 3 valuation metrics.
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 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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