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Mainfreight's (NZSE:MFT) earnings growth rate lags the 31% CAGR delivered to shareholders

·3-min read

When you buy shares in a company, it's worth keeping in mind the possibility that it could fail, and you could lose your money. But when you pick a company that is really flourishing, you can make more than 100%. For example, the Mainfreight Limited (NZSE:MFT) share price has soared 258% in the last half decade. Most would be very happy with that. In the last week shares have slid back 3.3%.

While the stock has fallen 3.3% this week, it's worth focusing on the longer term and seeing if the stocks historical returns have been driven by the underlying fundamentals.

Check out our latest analysis for Mainfreight

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.

Over half a decade, Mainfreight managed to grow its earnings per share at 20% a year. This EPS growth is lower than the 29% average annual increase in the share price. This suggests that market participants hold the company in higher regard, these days. And that's hardly shocking given the track record of growth.

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's probably worth noting we've seen significant insider buying in the last quarter, which we consider a positive. On the other hand, we think the revenue and earnings trends are much more meaningful measures of the business. This free interactive report on Mainfreight's earnings, revenue and cash flow is a great place to start, if you want to investigate the stock further.

What About Dividends?

It is important to consider the total shareholder return, as well as the share price return, for any given stock. 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. Arguably, the TSR gives a more comprehensive picture of the return generated by a stock. We note that for Mainfreight the TSR over the last 5 years was 291%, 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

We're pleased to report that Mainfreight shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 12% over one year. Of course, that includes the dividend. Having said that, the five-year TSR of 31% a year, is even better. Potential buyers might understandably feel they've missed the opportunity, but it's always possible business is still firing on all cylinders. It is all well and good that insiders have been buying shares, but we suggest you check here to see what price insiders were buying at.

Mainfreight is not the only stock that insiders are buying. For those who like to find winning investments this free list of growing companies with recent insider purchasing, could be just the ticket.

Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on NZ 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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