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Salesforce's (NYSE:CRM) investors will be pleased with their decent 90% return over the last five years

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It hasn't been the best quarter for Salesforce, Inc. (NYSE:CRM) shareholders, since the share price has fallen 21% in that time. Looking further back, the stock has generated good profits over five years. It has returned a market beating 90% in that time. While the long term returns are impressive, we do have some sympathy for those who bought more recently, given the 31% drop, in the last year.

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.

View our latest analysis for Salesforce

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 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.

Over half a decade, Salesforce managed to grow its earnings per share at 38% a year. The EPS growth is more impressive than the yearly share price gain of 14% over the same period. So one could conclude that the broader market has become more cautious towards the stock. Of course, with a P/E ratio of 165.50, the market remains optimistic.

The company's earnings per share (over time) is depicted in the image below (click to see the exact numbers).

earnings-per-share-growth
earnings-per-share-growth

Before buying or selling a stock, we always recommend a close examination of historic growth trends, available here.

A Different Perspective

We regret to report that Salesforce shareholders are down 31% for the year. Unfortunately, that's worse than the broader market decline of 19%. Having said that, it's inevitable that some stocks will be oversold in a falling market. The key is to keep your eyes on the fundamental developments. On the bright side, long term shareholders have made money, with a gain of 14% per year over half a decade. If the fundamental data continues to indicate long term sustainable growth, the current sell-off could be an opportunity worth considering. 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 instance, we've identified 5 warning signs for Salesforce that you should be aware of.

Of course Salesforce may not be the best stock to buy. So you may wish to see this free collection of growth stocks.

Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on US exchanges.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.

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.