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Should TransAlta Renewables (TSE:RNW) Be Disappointed With Their 24% Profit?

Simply Wall St

Generally speaking the aim of active stock picking is to find companies that provide returns that are superior to the market average. And while active stock picking involves risks (and requires diversification) it can also provide excess returns. To wit, the TransAlta Renewables share price has climbed 24% in five years, easily topping the market return of 7.5% (ignoring dividends). However, more recent returns haven't been as impressive as that, with the stock returning just 29% in the last year, including dividends.

Check out our latest analysis for TransAlta Renewables

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. 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, TransAlta Renewables achieved compound earnings per share (EPS) growth of 16% per year. This EPS growth is higher than the 4.3% average annual increase in the share price. So it seems the market isn't so enthusiastic about the stock these days.

You can see below how EPS has changed over time (discover the exact values by clicking on the image).

TSX:RNW Past and Future Earnings, April 22nd 2019

It's probably worth noting that the CEO is paid less than the median at similar sized 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. Before buying or selling a stock, we always recommend a close examination of historic growth trends, available here..

What About Dividends?

It is important to consider the total shareholder return, as well as the share price return, for any given stock. 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. Arguably, the TSR gives a more comprehensive picture of the return generated by a stock. As it happens, TransAlta Renewables's TSR for the last 5 years was 75%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.

A Different Perspective

It's nice to see that TransAlta Renewables shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 29% over the last year. Of course, that includes 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. Keeping this in mind, a solid next step might be to take a look at TransAlta Renewables's dividend track record. This free interactive graph is a great place to start.

But note: TransAlta Renewables 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 CA 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 editorial-team@simplywallst.com. 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.