The main point of investing for the long term is to make money. Better yet, you'd like to see the share price move up more than the market average. Unfortunately for shareholders, while the Encompass Health Corporation (NYSE:EHC) share price is up 67% in the last five years, that's less than the market return. Zooming in, the stock is actually down 11% 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.
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 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 five years of share price growth, Encompass Health achieved compound earnings per share (EPS) growth of 8.3% per year. This EPS growth is lower than the 11% 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.
The image below shows how EPS has tracked over time (if you click on the image you can see greater detail).
We know that Encompass Health has improved its bottom line lately, but is it going to grow revenue? You could check out this free report showing analyst revenue forecasts.
What About Dividends?
As well as measuring the share price return, investors should also consider the total shareholder return (TSR). Whereas the share price return only reflects the change in the share price, the TSR includes the value of dividends (assuming they were reinvested) and the benefit of any discounted capital raising or spin-off. It's fair to say that the TSR gives a more complete picture for stocks that pay a dividend. As it happens, Encompass Health's TSR for the last 5 years was 81%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.
A Different Perspective
Encompass Health shareholders are down 9.7% for the year (even including dividends), but the market itself is up 2.0%. However, keep in mind that even the best stocks will sometimes underperform the market over a twelve month period. On the bright side, long term shareholders have made money, with a gain of 13% 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. Case in point: We've spotted 2 warning signs for Encompass Health you should be aware of.
For those who like to find winning investments this free list of growing companies with recent insider purchasing, could be just the ticket.
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.