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By buying an index fund, you can roughly match the market return with ease. But if you pick the right individual stocks, you could make more than that. For example, Victrex plc (LON:VCT) shareholders have seen the share price rise 42% over three years, well in excess of the market return (17%, not including dividends).
While markets are a powerful pricing mechanism, share prices reflect investor sentiment, not just underlying business performance. One imperfect but simple way to consider how the market perception of a company has shifted is to compare the change in the earnings per share (EPS) with the share price movement.
During three years of share price growth, Victrex achieved compound earnings per share growth of 9.5% per year. This EPS growth is lower than the 12% 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 three years ago. It is quite common to see investors become enamoured with a business, after a few years of solid progress.
The company's earnings per share (over time) is depicted in the image below (click to see the exact numbers).
We consider it positive that insiders have made significant purchases in the last year. Having said that, most people consider earnings and revenue growth trends to be a more meaningful guide to the business. It might be well worthwhile taking a look at our free report on Victrex's earnings, revenue and cash flow.
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. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. As it happens, Victrex's TSR for the last 3 years was 63%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. And there's no prize for guessing that the dividend payments largely explain the divergence!
A Different Perspective
Victrex shareholders are down 8.4% for the year (even including dividends), but the market itself is up 7.2%. Even the share prices of good stocks drop sometimes, but we want to see improvements in the fundamental metrics of a business, before getting too interested. Longer term investors wouldn't be so upset, since they would have made 6.8%, each year, over five years. It could be that the recent sell-off is an opportunity, so it may be worth checking the fundamental data for signs of a long term growth trend. If you want to research this stock further, the data on insider buying is an obvious place to start. You can click here to see who has been buying shares - and the price they paid.
Victrex is not the only stock insiders are buying. So take a peek at this free list of growing companies with insider buying.
Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on GB 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 email@example.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.