Want to participate in a research study? Help shape the future of investing tools and earn a $60 gift card!
It might seem bad, but the worst that can happen when you buy a stock (without leverage) is that its share price goes to zero. But when you pick a company that is really flourishing, you can make more than 100%. For example, the Primerica, Inc. (NYSE:PRI) share price has soared 183% in the last three years. Most would be happy with that. It's also good to see the share price up 25% over the last quarter. But this move may well have been assisted by the reasonably buoyant market (up 13% in 90 days).
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 three years of share price growth, Primerica achieved compound earnings per share growth of 26% per year. This EPS growth is lower than the 41% average annual increase in the share price. This suggests that, as the business progressed over the last few years, it gained the confidence of market participants. It's not unusual to see the market 're-rate' a stock, after a few years of growth.
The company's earnings per share (over time) is depicted in the image below (click to see the exact numbers).
This free interactive report on Primerica's earnings, revenue and cash flow is a great place to start, if you want to investigate the stock further.
What About Dividends?
When looking at investment returns, it is important to consider the difference between total shareholder return (TSR) and share price return. 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. In the case of Primerica, it has a TSR of 192% for the last 3 years. That exceeds its share price return that we previously mentioned. And there's no prize for guessing that the dividend payments largely explain the divergence!
A Different Perspective
It's nice to see that Primerica shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 33% over the last year. That's including the dividend. That gain is better than the annual TSR over five years, which is 24%. Therefore it seems like sentiment around the company has been positive lately. Given the share price momentum remains strong, it might be worth taking a closer look at the stock, lest you miss an opportunity. Most investors take the time to check the data on insider transactions. You can click here to see if insiders have been buying or selling.
If you would prefer to check out another company -- one with potentially superior financials -- then do not miss this free list of companies that have proven they can 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.
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 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. Thank you for reading.