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Investors in AbbVie (NYSE:ABBV) have made a strong return of 138% over the past five years

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The main point of investing for the long term is to make money. But more than that, you probably want to see it rise more than the market average. Unfortunately for shareholders, while the AbbVie Inc. (NYSE:ABBV) share price is up 89% in the last five years, that's less than the market return. However, if you include the dividends then the return is market beating. However, more recent buyers should be happy with the increase of 29% over the last year.

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 AbbVie

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.

Over half a decade, AbbVie managed to grow its earnings per share at 1.4% a year. This EPS growth is slower than the share price growth of 14% per year, over the same period. This suggests that market participants hold the company in higher regard, these days. That's not necessarily surprising considering the five-year track record of earnings growth.

The graphic below depicts how EPS has changed over time (unveil the exact values by clicking on the image).

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

Before buying or selling a stock, we always recommend a close examination of historic growth trends, available here.

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 incorporates the value of any spin-offs or discounted capital raisings, along with any dividends, based on the assumption that the dividends are reinvested. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. We note that for AbbVie the TSR over the last 5 years was 138%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.

A Different Perspective

We're pleased to report that AbbVie shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 36% over one year. That's including the dividend. That gain is better than the annual TSR over five years, which is 19%. Therefore it seems like sentiment around the company has been positive lately. Given the share price momentum remains strong, it might be worth taking a closer look at the stock, lest you miss an opportunity. 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 instance, we've identified 4 warning signs for AbbVie that you should be aware of.

If you would prefer to check out another company -- one with potentially superior financials -- then do not miss this free list of companies that have proven they can grow earnings.

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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