Stock pickers are generally looking for stocks that will outperform the broader market. And while active stock picking involves risks (and requires diversification) it can also provide excess returns. For example, long term Assystem S.A. (EPA:ASY) shareholders have enjoyed a 68% share price rise over the last half decade, well in excess of the market return of around 31% (not including dividends). On the other hand, the more recent gains haven't been so impressive, with shareholders gaining just 5.5% , including dividends .
To paraphrase Benjamin Graham: Over the short term the market is a voting machine, but over the long term it's a weighing machine. 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, Assystem achieved compound earnings per share (EPS) growth of 11% per year. This EPS growth is remarkably close to the 11% 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.
The graphic below depicts how EPS has changed over time (unveil the exact values by clicking on the image).
It's probably worth noting that the CEO is paid less than the median at similar sized companies. But while CEO remuneration is always worth checking, the really important question is whether the company can grow earnings going forward. It might be well worthwhile taking a look at our free report on Assystem's earnings, revenue and cash flow.
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. It's fair to say that the TSR gives a more complete picture for stocks that pay a dividend. In the case of Assystem, it has a TSR of 100% for the last 5 years. That exceeds its share price return that we previously mentioned. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!
A Different Perspective
Assystem shareholders gained a total return of 5.5% during the year. But that return falls short of the market. It's probably a good sign that the company has an even better long term track record, having provided shareholders with an annual TSR of 15% over five years. It may well be that this is a business worth popping on the watching, given the continuing positive reception, over time, from the market. 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. Take risks, for example - Assystem has 2 warning signs we think you should be aware of.
But note: Assystem may not be the best stock to buy. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with past earnings growth (and further growth forecast).
Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on FR exchanges.
If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at email@example.com. This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned.
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