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Investing in Australian United Investment (ASX:AUI) five years ago would have delivered you a 39% gain

Generally speaking the aim of active stock picking is to find companies that provide returns that are superior to the market average. And in our experience, buying the right stocks can give your wealth a significant boost. For example, the Australian United Investment Company Limited (ASX:AUI) share price is up 14% in the last 5 years, clearly besting the market return of around 11% (ignoring dividends). On the other hand, the more recent gains haven't been so impressive, with shareholders gaining just 1.2% , including dividends .

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.

See our latest analysis for Australian United Investment

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. 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 five years of share price growth, Australian United Investment achieved compound earnings per share (EPS) growth of 9.8% per year. The EPS growth is more impressive than the yearly share price gain of 3% over the same period. Therefore, it seems the market has become relatively pessimistic about the company.

The image below shows how EPS has tracked over time (if you click on the image you can see greater detail).

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

It might be well worthwhile taking a look at our free report on Australian United Investment's earnings, revenue and cash flow.

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 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, Australian United Investment's TSR for the last 5 years was 39%, 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 Australian United Investment shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 1.2% over one year. Of course, that includes the dividend. Having said that, the five-year TSR of 7% a year, is even better. The pessimistic view would be that be that the stock has its best days behind it, but on the other hand the price might simply be moderating while the business itself continues to execute. If you would like to research Australian United Investment in more detail then you might want to take a look at whether insiders have been buying or selling shares in the company.

But note: Australian United Investment 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 AU 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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