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. To wit, the Visa share price has climbed 70% in five years, easily topping the market return of 44% (ignoring dividends). However, more recent returns haven't been as impressive as that, with the stock returning just 7.4% in the last year , including dividends .
Although Visa has shed US$23b from its market cap this week, let's take a look at its longer term fundamental trends and see if they've driven returns.
In his essay The Superinvestors of Graham-and-Doddsville Warren Buffett described how share prices do not always rationally reflect the value of a business. 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.
During five years of share price growth, Visa achieved compound earnings per share (EPS) growth of 14% per year. The EPS growth is more impressive than the yearly share price gain of 11% over the same period. Therefore, it seems the market has become relatively pessimistic about the company.
The graphic below depicts how EPS has changed over time (unveil the exact values by clicking on the image).
We know that Visa has improved its bottom line lately, but is it going to grow revenue? You could check out this free report showing analyst revenue forecasts.
What About Dividends?
When looking at investment returns, it is important to consider the difference between total shareholder return (TSR) and share price return. 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. It's fair to say that the TSR gives a more complete picture for stocks that pay a dividend. As it happens, Visa's TSR for the last 5 years was 76%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!
A Different Perspective
It's good to see that Visa has rewarded shareholders with a total shareholder return of 7.4% in the last twelve months. That's including the dividend. However, that falls short of the 12% TSR per annum it has made for shareholders, each year, over five years. 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. Consider risks, for instance. Every company has them, and we've spotted 1 warning sign for Visa you should know about.
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 American 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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