If you buy and hold a stock for many years, you'd hope to be making a profit. But more than that, you probably want to see it rise more than the market average. Unfortunately for shareholders, while the Equity Residential (NYSE:EQR) share price is up 16% in the last five years, that's less than the market return. The last year has been disappointing, with the stock price down 6.8% in that time.
The past week has proven to be lucrative for Equity Residential investors, so let's see if fundamentals drove the company's five-year performance.
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, Equity Residential achieved compound earnings per share (EPS) growth of 8.2% per year. This EPS growth is higher than the 3% average annual increase in the share price. So one could conclude that the broader market has become more cautious towards the stock.
You can see how EPS has changed over time in the image below (click on the chart to see the exact values).
We know that Equity Residential has improved its bottom line lately, but is it going to grow revenue? If you're interested, you could check this free report showing consensus 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. 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. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. In the case of Equity Residential, it has a TSR of 37% for the last 5 years. That exceeds its share price return that we previously mentioned. And there's no prize for guessing that the dividend payments largely explain the divergence!
A Different Perspective
While it's never nice to take a loss, Equity Residential shareholders can take comfort that , including dividends,their trailing twelve month loss of 4.0% wasn't as bad as the market loss of around 11%. Longer term investors wouldn't be so upset, since they would have made 7%, each year, over five years. It could be that the business is just facing some short term problems, but shareholders should keep a close eye on the fundamentals. 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 example, we've discovered 3 warning signs for Equity Residential (1 is a bit concerning!) that you should be aware of before investing here.
Of course Equity Residential may not be the best stock to buy. So you may wish to see this free collection of growth stocks.
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.
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