When we invest, we're generally looking for stocks that outperform the market average. Buying under-rated businesses is one path to excess returns. For example, the National Express Group PLC (LON:NEX) share price is up 93% in the last 5 years, clearly besting the market return of around 8.4% (ignoring dividends). On the other hand, the more recent gains haven't been so impressive, with shareholders gaining just 18% , including dividends .
While markets are a powerful pricing mechanism, share prices reflect investor sentiment, not just underlying business performance. 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.
During five years of share price growth, National Express Group achieved compound earnings per share (EPS) growth of 24% per year. The EPS growth is more impressive than the yearly share price gain of 14% over the same period. So it seems the market isn't so enthusiastic about the stock these days.
You can see below how EPS has changed over time (discover the exact values by clicking on the image).
It might be well worthwhile taking a look at our free report on National Express Group's earnings, revenue and cash flow.
What About Dividends?
As well as measuring the share price return, investors should also consider the total shareholder return (TSR). 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. We note that for National Express Group the TSR over the last 5 years was 130%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!
A Different Perspective
It's good to see that National Express Group has rewarded shareholders with a total shareholder return of 18% in the last twelve months. That's including the dividend. That's better than the annualised return of 18% over half a decade, implying that the company is doing better recently. In the best case scenario, this may hint at some real business momentum, implying that now could be a great time to delve deeper. If you would like to research National Express Group in more detail then you might want to take a look at whether insiders have been buying or selling shares in the company.
Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking elsewhere. So take a peek at this free list of companies we expect will grow earnings.
Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on GB exchanges.
We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.
If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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. Thank you for reading.