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Eli Lilly's (NYSE:LLY) investors will be pleased with their fantastic 370% return over the last five years

For many, the main point of investing in the stock market is to achieve spectacular returns. And we've seen some truly amazing gains over the years. For example, the Eli Lilly and Company (NYSE:LLY) share price is up a whopping 327% in the last half decade, a handsome return for long term holders. This just goes to show the value creation that some businesses can achieve. Also pleasing for shareholders was the 15% gain in the last three months. This could be related to the recent financial results, released recently - you can catch up on the most recent data by reading our company report.

Let's take a look at the underlying fundamentals over the longer term, and see if they've been consistent with shareholders returns.

View our latest analysis for Eli Lilly

To quote Buffett, 'Ships will sail around the world but the Flat Earth Society will flourish. There will continue to be wide discrepancies between price and value in the marketplace...' 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).

Over half a decade, Eli Lilly managed to grow its earnings per share at 25% a year. This EPS growth is slower than the share price growth of 34% per year, over the same period. 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. This optimism is visible in its fairly high P/E ratio of 56.97.

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

earnings-per-share-growth
earnings-per-share-growth

We like that insiders have been buying shares in the last twelve months. Having said that, most people consider earnings and revenue growth trends to be a more meaningful guide to the business. Before buying or selling a stock, we always recommend a close examination of historic growth trends, available here..

What About Dividends?

When looking at investment returns, it is important to consider the difference between total shareholder return (TSR) and share price return. The TSR is a return calculation that accounts for the value of cash dividends (assuming that any dividend received was reinvested) and the calculated value of any discounted capital raisings and spin-offs. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. As it happens, Eli Lilly's TSR for the last 5 years was 370%, 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

We're pleased to report that Eli Lilly shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 40% over one year. That's including the dividend. That's better than the annualised return of 36% over half a decade, implying that the company is doing better recently. Given the share price momentum remains strong, it might be worth taking a closer look at the stock, lest you miss an opportunity. It's always interesting to track share price performance over the longer term. But to understand Eli Lilly better, we need to consider many other factors. To that end, you should be aware of the 3 warning signs we've spotted with Eli Lilly .

If you like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).

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.

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