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 AECOM (NYSE:ACM) share price has soared 133% in the last three years. That sort of return is as solid as granite. On the other hand, we note it's down 9.5% in about a month. This could be related to the soft market, with stocks down around 6.0% in the last month.
Let's take a look at the underlying fundamentals over the longer term, and see if they've been consistent with shareholders returns.
While the efficient markets hypothesis continues to be taught by some, it has been proven that markets are over-reactive dynamic systems, and investors are not always rational. One way to examine how market sentiment has changed over time is to look at the interaction between a company's share price and its earnings per share (EPS).
During three years of share price growth, AECOM achieved compound earnings per share growth of 19% per year. In comparison, the 33% per year gain in the share price outpaces the EPS growth. This suggests that, as the business progressed over the last few years, it gained the confidence of market participants. That's not necessarily surprising considering the three-year track record of earnings growth.
The company's earnings per share (over time) is depicted in the image below (click to see the exact numbers).
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 AECOM's earnings, revenue and cash flow is a great place to start, if you want to investigate the stock further.
A Different Perspective
We're pleased to report that AECOM shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 31% over one year. And that does include the dividend. That's better than the annualised return of 14% over half a decade, implying that the company is doing better recently. In the best case scenario, this may hint at some real business momentum, implying that now could be a great time to delve deeper. Is AECOM cheap compared to other companies? These 3 valuation measures might help you decide.
Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking elsewhere. So take a peek at this free list of companies we expect will 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.
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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.