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The Penske Automotive Group (NYSE:PAG) Share Price Is Up 23% And Shareholders Are Holding On

Simply Wall St

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Investors can buy low cost index fund if they want to receive the average market return. But across the board there are plenty of stocks that underperform the market. Unfortunately for shareholders, while the Penske Automotive Group, Inc. (NYSE:PAG) share price is up 23% in the last three years, that falls short of the market return. Zooming in, the stock is actually down 1.2% in the last year.

View our latest analysis for Penske Automotive Group

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.

Penske Automotive Group was able to grow its EPS at 14% per year over three years, sending the share price higher. The average annual share price increase of 7.1% is actually lower than the EPS growth. So it seems investors have become more cautious about the company, over time. We'd venture the lowish P/E ratio of 8.49 also reflects the negative sentiment around the stock.

You can see how EPS has changed over time in the image below (click on the chart to see the exact values).

NYSE:PAG Past and Future Earnings, May 7th 2019

We consider it positive that insiders have made significant purchases in the last year. 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. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. We note that for Penske Automotive Group the TSR over the last 3 years was 34%, 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

Penske Automotive Group shareholders gained a total return of 2.0% during the year. But that was short of the market average. On the bright side, the longer term returns (running at about 2.6% a year, over half a decade) look better. It's quite possible the business continues to execute with prowess, even as the share price gains are slowing. If you want to research this stock further, the data on insider buying is an obvious place to start. You can click here to see who has been buying shares - and the price they paid.

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.

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.