If you buy and hold a stock for many years, you'd hope to be making a profit. Better yet, you'd like to see the share price move up more than the market average. Unfortunately for shareholders, while the AbbVie Inc. (NYSE:ABBV) share price is up 42% in the last five years, that's less than the market return. But if you include dividends then the return is market-beating. However, more recent buyers should be happy with the increase of 39% over the last year.
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.
Over half a decade, AbbVie managed to grow its earnings per share at 38% a year. This EPS growth is higher than the 7.3% average annual increase in the share price. Therefore, it seems the market has become relatively pessimistic about the company.
You can see below how EPS has changed over time (discover 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. 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). 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. As it happens, AbbVie's TSR for the last 5 years was 75%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. And there's no prize for guessing that the dividend payments largely explain the divergence!
A Different Perspective
It's good to see that AbbVie has rewarded shareholders with a total shareholder return of 47% in the last twelve months. And that does include the dividend. Since the one-year TSR is better than the five-year TSR (the latter coming in at 12% per year), it would seem that the stock's performance has improved in recent times. Someone with an optimistic perspective could view the recent improvement in TSR as indicating that the business itself is getting better with time. I find it very interesting to look at share price over the long term as a proxy for business performance. But to truly gain insight, we need to consider other information, too. Consider risks, for instance. Every company has them, and we've spotted 5 warning signs for AbbVie you should know about.
AbbVie is not the only stock insiders are buying. So take a peek at this free list of growing companies with insider buying.
Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on US exchanges.
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. 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.
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