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Investing in Fastenal (NASDAQ:FAST) five years ago would have delivered you a 230% gain

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When you buy a stock there is always a possibility that it could drop 100%. But on the bright side, you can make far more than 100% on a really good stock. For example, the Fastenal Company (NASDAQ:FAST) share price has soared 189% in the last half decade. Most would be very happy with that.

So let's assess the underlying fundamentals over the last 5 years and see if they've moved in lock-step with shareholder returns.

Check out our latest analysis for Fastenal

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.

Over half a decade, Fastenal managed to grow its earnings per share at 12% a year. This EPS growth is slower than the share price growth of 24% per year, over the same period. This suggests that market participants hold the company in higher regard, these days. And that's hardly shocking given the track record of growth.

The image below shows how EPS has tracked over time (if you click on the image you can see greater detail).

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

It's probably worth noting we've seen significant insider buying in the last quarter, which we consider a positive. That said, we think earnings and revenue growth trends are even more important factors to consider. Dive deeper into the earnings by checking this interactive graph of Fastenal'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 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. Arguably, the TSR gives a more comprehensive picture of the return generated by a stock. As it happens, Fastenal's TSR for the last 5 years was 230%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!

A Different Perspective

Fastenal shareholders gained a total return of 28% during the year. But that was short of the market average. The silver lining is that the gain was actually better than the average annual return of 27% per year over five year. This suggests the company might be improving over time. 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. Case in point: We've spotted 1 warning sign for Fastenal you should be aware of.

Fastenal is not the only stock that insiders are buying. For those who like to find winning investments this free list of growing companies with recent insider purchasing, could be just the ticket.

Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on US exchanges.

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.

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

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