The last three months have been tough on Australian Ethical Investment Ltd. (ASX:AEF) shareholders, who have seen the share price decline a rather worrying 34%. But that doesn't change the fact that the returns over the last half decade have been spectacular. To be precise, the stock price is 714% higher than it was five years ago, a wonderful performance by any measure. So we don't think the recent decline in the share price means its story is a sad one. Of course what matters most is whether the business can improve itself sustainably, thus justifying a higher price.
We love happy stories like this one. The company should be really proud of that performance!
To paraphrase Benjamin Graham: Over the short term the market is a voting machine, but over the long term it's a weighing machine. 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.
During five years of share price growth, Australian Ethical Investment achieved compound earnings per share (EPS) growth of 35% per year. This EPS growth is lower than the 52% average annual increase in the share price. So it's fair to assume the market has a higher opinion of the business than it did five years ago. And that's hardly shocking given the track record of growth. This optimism is visible in its fairly high P/E ratio of 54.76.
You can see how EPS has changed over time in the image below (click on the chart to see the exact values).
It's probably worth noting that the CEO is paid less than the median at similar sized companies. But while CEO remuneration is always worth checking, the really important question is whether the company can grow earnings going forward. This free interactive report on Australian Ethical Investment'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 incorporates the value of any spin-offs or discounted capital raisings, along with any dividends, based on the assumption that the dividends are reinvested. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. In the case of Australian Ethical Investment, it has a TSR of 846% for the last 5 years. That exceeds its share price return that we previously mentioned. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.
A Different Perspective
It's good to see that Australian Ethical Investment has rewarded shareholders with a total shareholder return of 124% in the last twelve months. Of course, that includes the dividend. That gain is better than the annual TSR over five years, which is 57%. Therefore it seems like sentiment around the company has been positive lately. In the best case scenario, this may hint at some real business momentum, implying that now could be a great time to delve deeper. 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. Consider for instance, the ever-present spectre of investment risk. We've identified 1 warning sign with Australian Ethical Investment , and understanding them should be part of your investment process.
If you are like me, then you will not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying.
Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on AU 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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