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Matthews International's (NASDAQ:MATW) investors will be pleased with their notable 88% return over the last three years

One simple way to benefit from the stock market is to buy an index fund. But many of us dare to dream of bigger returns, and build a portfolio ourselves. Just take a look at Matthews International Corporation (NASDAQ:MATW), which is up 73%, over three years, soundly beating the market return of 60% (not including dividends). However, more recent returns haven't been as impressive as that, with the stock returning just 12% in the last year , including dividends .

So let's investigate and see if the longer term performance of the company has been in line with the underlying business' progress.

View our latest analysis for Matthews International

Because Matthews International made a loss in the last twelve months, we think the market is probably more focussed on revenue and revenue growth, at least for now. Shareholders of unprofitable companies usually expect strong revenue growth. That's because it's hard to be confident a company will be sustainable if revenue growth is negligible, and it never makes a profit.

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Matthews International's revenue trended up 6.8% each year over three years. Considering the company is losing money, we think that rate of revenue growth is uninspiring. The modest growth is probably broadly reflected in the share price, which is up 20%, per year over 3 years. Ultimately, the important thing is whether the company is trending to profitability. Given the market doesn't seem too excited about the stock, a closer look at the financial data could pay off, if you can find indications of a stronger growth trend in the future.

The company's revenue and earnings (over time) are depicted in the image below (click to see the exact numbers).

earnings-and-revenue-growth
earnings-and-revenue-growth

This free interactive report on Matthews International's balance sheet strength 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. 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, Matthews International's TSR for the last 3 years was 88%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!

A Different Perspective

It's nice to see that Matthews International shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 12% over the last year. That's including the dividend. There's no doubt those recent returns are much better than the TSR loss of 4% per year over five years. We generally put more weight on the long term performance over the short term, but the recent improvement could hint at a (positive) inflection point within the business. While it is well worth considering the different impacts that market conditions can have on the share price, there are other factors that are even more important. Even so, be aware that Matthews International is showing 2 warning signs in our investment analysis , and 1 of those makes us a bit uncomfortable...

We will like Matthews International better if we see some big insider buys. While we wait, check out this free list of growing companies with considerable, recent, insider buying.

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