When you buy and hold a stock for the long term, you definitely want it to provide a positive return. Furthermore, you'd generally like to see the share price rise faster than the market. But Mercury Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:MRCY) has fallen short of that second goal, with a share price rise of 69% over five years, which is below the market return. Unfortunately the share price is down 27% in the last year.
While this past week has detracted from the company's five-year return, let's look at the recent trends of the underlying business and see if the gains have been in alignment.
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...' By comparing earnings per share (EPS) and share price changes over time, we can get a feel for how investor attitudes to a company have morphed over time.
Over half a decade, Mercury Systems managed to grow its earnings per share at 3.6% a year. This EPS growth is lower than the 11% average annual increase in the share price. So it's fair to assume the market has a higher opinion of the business than it did five years ago. That's not necessarily surprising considering the five-year track record of earnings growth. This optimism is visible in its fairly high P/E ratio of 83.91.
The graphic below depicts how EPS has changed over time (unveil the exact values by clicking on the image).
It's probably worth noting we've seen significant insider buying in the last quarter, which we consider a positive. That said, we think earnings and revenue growth trends are even more important factors to consider. Dive deeper into the earnings by checking this interactive graph of Mercury Systems' earnings, revenue and cash flow.
A Different Perspective
Investors in Mercury Systems had a tough year, with a total loss of 27%, against a market gain of about 5.6%. However, keep in mind that even the best stocks will sometimes underperform the market over a twelve month period. Longer term investors wouldn't be so upset, since they would have made 11%, each year, over five years. It could be that the recent sell-off is an opportunity, so it may be worth checking the fundamental data for signs of a long term growth trend. 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. For instance, we've identified 2 warning signs for Mercury Systems that you should be aware of.
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.
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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.