One simple way to benefit from the stock market is to buy an index fund. But if you pick the right individual stocks, you could make more than that. Just take a look at Central Garden & Pet Company (NASDAQ:CENT), which is up 59%, over three years, soundly beating the market return of 36% (not including dividends).
With that in mind, it's worth seeing if the company's underlying fundamentals have been the driver of long term performance, or if there are some discrepancies.
While markets are a powerful pricing mechanism, share prices reflect investor sentiment, not just underlying business performance. 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.
Central Garden & Pet was able to grow its EPS at 15% per year over three years, sending the share price higher. We note that the 17% yearly (average) share price gain isn't too far from the EPS growth rate. Coincidence? Probably not. This observation indicates that the market's attitude to the business hasn't changed all that much. Au contraire, the share price change has arguably mimicked the EPS growth.
You can see below how EPS has changed over time (discover the exact values by clicking on the image).
We know that Central Garden & Pet has improved its bottom line lately, but is it going to grow revenue? Check if analysts think Central Garden & Pet will grow revenue in the future.
A Different Perspective
We regret to report that Central Garden & Pet shareholders are down 19% for the year. Unfortunately, that's worse than the broader market decline of 7.6%. However, it could simply be that the share price has been impacted by broader market jitters. It might be worth keeping an eye on the fundamentals, in case there's a good opportunity. On the bright side, long term shareholders have made money, with a gain of 5% per year over half a decade. 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. I find it very interesting to look at share price over the long term as a proxy for business performance. But to truly gain insight, we need to consider other information, too. Case in point: We've spotted 1 warning sign for Central Garden & Pet you should be aware of.
If you would prefer to check out another company -- one with potentially superior financials -- then do not miss this free list of companies that have proven they can 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.
Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.
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.