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Investing in Applied Industrial Technologies (NYSE:AIT) five years ago would have delivered you a 287% gain

The most you can lose on any stock (assuming you don't use leverage) is 100% of your money. But on the bright side, if you buy shares in a high quality company at the right price, you can gain well over 100%. One great example is Applied Industrial Technologies, Inc. (NYSE:AIT) which saw its share price drive 260% higher over five years.

With that in mind, it's worth seeing if the company's underlying fundamentals have been the driver of long term performance, or if there are some discrepancies.

View our latest analysis for Applied Industrial Technologies

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. 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.

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During five years of share price growth, Applied Industrial Technologies achieved compound earnings per share (EPS) growth of 21% per year. This EPS growth is lower than the 29% average annual increase in the share price. So it's fair to assume the market has a higher opinion of the business than it did five years ago. That's not necessarily surprising considering the five-year track record of earnings growth.

You can see below how EPS has changed over time (discover the exact values by clicking on the image).

earnings-per-share-growth
earnings-per-share-growth

It is of course excellent to see how Applied Industrial Technologies has grown profits over the years, but the future is more important for shareholders. It might be well worthwhile taking a look at our free report on how its financial position has changed over time.

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. Arguably, the TSR gives a more comprehensive picture of the return generated by a stock. As it happens, Applied Industrial Technologies' TSR for the last 5 years was 287%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!

A Different Perspective

We're pleased to report that Applied Industrial Technologies shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 54% over one year. That's including the dividend. That gain is better than the annual TSR over five years, which is 31%. Therefore it seems like sentiment around the company has been positive lately. In the best case scenario, this may hint at some real business momentum, implying that now could be a great time to delve deeper. Before spending more time on Applied Industrial Technologies it might be wise to click here to see if insiders have been buying or selling shares.

Of course Applied Industrial Technologies 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 American exchanges.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.

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.