Alcoa Corporation (NYSE:AA) shareholders have seen the share price descend 17% over the month. But that doesn't displace its brilliant performance over three years. In fact, the share price has taken off in that time, up 590%. Arguably, the recent fall is to be expected after such a strong rise. Only time will tell if there is still too much optimism currently reflected in the share price. We love happy stories like this one. The company should be really proud of that performance!
Since the long term performance has been good but there's been a recent pullback of 12%, let's check if the fundamentals match the share price.
While the efficient markets hypothesis continues to be taught by some, it has been proven that markets are over-reactive dynamic systems, and investors are not always rational. One flawed but reasonable way to assess how sentiment around a company has changed is to compare the earnings per share (EPS) with the share price.
Alcoa became profitable within the last three years. Given the importance of this milestone, it's not overly surprising that the share price has increased strongly.
The company's earnings per share (over time) is depicted in the image below (click to see the exact numbers).
It is of course excellent to see how Alcoa has grown profits over the years, but the future is more important for shareholders. This free interactive report on Alcoa's balance sheet strength is a great place to start, if you want to investigate the stock further.
What About Dividends?
As well as measuring the share price return, investors should also consider the total shareholder return (TSR). The TSR is a return calculation that accounts for the value of cash dividends (assuming that any dividend received was reinvested) and the calculated value of any discounted capital raisings and spin-offs. It's fair to say that the TSR gives a more complete picture for stocks that pay a dividend. We note that for Alcoa the TSR over the last 3 years was 598%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. And there's no prize for guessing that the dividend payments largely explain the divergence!
A Different Perspective
While the broader market lost about 12% in the twelve months, Alcoa shareholders did even worse, losing 56% (even including dividends). Having said that, it's inevitable that some stocks will be oversold in a falling market. The key is to keep your eyes on the fundamental developments. Regrettably, last year's performance caps off a bad run, with the shareholders facing a total loss of 3% per year over five years. We realise that Baron Rothschild has said investors should "buy when there is blood on the streets", but we caution that investors should first be sure they are buying a high quality 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. For example, we've discovered 1 warning sign for Alcoa that you should be aware of before investing here.
But note: Alcoa 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 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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