The simplest way to invest in stocks is to buy exchange traded funds. But you can do a lot better than that by buying good quality businesses for attractive prices. For example, the Sonoco Products Company (NYSE:SON) share price is up 42% in the last five years, slightly above the market return. It’s also good to see that the stock is up 19% in a year.
To paraphrase Benjamin Graham: Over the short term the market is a voting machine, but over the long term it’s a weighing machine. By comparing earnings per share (EPS) and share price changes over time, we can get a feel for how investor attitudes to a company have morphed over time.
During five years of share price growth, Sonoco Products achieved compound earnings per share (EPS) growth of 8.8% per 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.
The graphic below depicts how EPS has changed over time (unveil the exact values by clicking on the image).
We’re pleased to report that the CEO is remunerated more modestly than most CEOs at similarly capitalized companies. It’s always worth keeping an eye on CEO pay, but a more important question is whether the company will grow earnings throughout the years. Dive deeper into the earnings by checking this interactive graph of Sonoco Products’s earnings, revenue and cash flow.
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 discounted capital raisings, along with any dividends, based on the assumption that the dividends are reinvested. Arguably, the TSR gives a more comprehensive picture of the return generated by a stock. As it happens, Sonoco Products’s TSR for the last 5 years was 65%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!
A Different Perspective
It’s nice to see that Sonoco Products shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 23% over the last year. Of course, that includes the dividend. That gain is better than the annual TSR over five years, which is 11%. Therefore it seems like sentiment around the company has been positive lately. Someone with an optimistic perspective could view the recent improvement in TSR as indicating that the business itself is getting better with time. 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.
But note: Sonoco Products may not be the best stock to buy. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with past earnings growth (and further growth forecast).
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.