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M&G's (LON:MNG) investors will be pleased with their notable 39% return over the last year

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These days it's easy to simply buy an index fund, and your returns should (roughly) match the market. But one can do better than that by picking better than average stocks (as part of a diversified portfolio). To wit, the M&G plc (LON:MNG) share price is 26% higher than it was a year ago, much better than the market return of around 20% (not including dividends) in the same period. If it can keep that out-performance up over the long term, investors will do very well! We'll need to follow M&G for a while to get a better sense of its share price trend, since it hasn't been listed for particularly long.

Now it's worth having a look at the company's fundamentals too, because that will help us determine if the long term shareholder return has matched the performance of the underlying business.

Check out our latest analysis for M&G

To paraphrase Benjamin Graham: Over the short term the market is a voting machine, but over the long term it's a weighing machine. One imperfect but simple way to consider how the market perception of a company has shifted is to compare the change in the earnings per share (EPS) with the share price movement.

During the last year, M&G actually saw its earnings per share drop 94%.

So we don't think that investors are paying too much attention to EPS. Indeed, when EPS is declining but the share price is up, it often means the market is considering other factors.

We note that the most recent dividend payment is higher than the payment a year ago, so that may have assisted the share price. Income-seeking investors probably helped bid up the stock price. Furthermore, the revenue growth of 57% probably also encouraged buyers.

The company's revenue and earnings (over time) are depicted in the image below (click to see the exact numbers).

earnings-and-revenue-growth
earnings-and-revenue-growth

M&G is well known by investors, and plenty of clever analysts have tried to predict the future profit levels. You can see what analysts are predicting for M&G in this interactive graph of future profit estimates.

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. It's fair to say that the TSR gives a more complete picture for stocks that pay a dividend. We note that for M&G the TSR over the last 1 year was 39%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. And there's no prize for guessing that the dividend payments largely explain the divergence!

A Different Perspective

M&G shareholders should be happy with the total gain of 39% over the last twelve months, including dividends. We regret to report that the share price is down 2.6% over ninety days. It may simply be that the share price got ahead of itself, although there may have been fundamental developments that are weighing on it. 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 4 warning signs for M&G you should be aware of, and 1 of them is potentially serious.

Of course M&G 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 GB 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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