The worst result, after buying shares in a company (assuming no leverage), would be if you lose all the money you put in. But when you pick a company that is really flourishing, you can make more than 100%. One great example is Insperity, Inc. (NYSE:NSP) which saw its share price drive 107% higher over five years. In more good news, the share price has risen 11% in thirty days. But the price may well have benefitted from a buoyant market, since stocks have gained 5.0% in the last thirty days.
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.
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 flawed but reasonable way to assess how sentiment around a company has changed is to compare the earnings per share (EPS) with the share price.
Over half a decade, Insperity managed to grow its earnings per share at 16% a year. This EPS growth is remarkably close to the 16% average annual increase in the share price. That suggests that the market sentiment around the company hasn't changed much over that time. Rather, the share price has approximately tracked EPS growth.
You can see below how EPS has changed over time (discover the exact values by clicking on the image).
We know that Insperity has improved its bottom line lately, but is it going to grow revenue? This free report showing analyst revenue forecasts should help you figure out if the EPS growth can be sustained.
What About Dividends?
As well as measuring the share price return, investors should also consider the total shareholder return (TSR). 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. Arguably, the TSR gives a more comprehensive picture of the return generated by a stock. We note that for Insperity the TSR over the last 5 years was 127%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.
A Different Perspective
It's good to see that Insperity has rewarded shareholders with a total shareholder return of 6.0% in the last twelve months. And that does include the dividend. Having said that, the five-year TSR of 18% 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. 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. Even so, be aware that Insperity is showing 1 warning sign in our investment analysis , you should know about...
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.
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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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