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West Pharmaceutical Services' (NYSE:WST) investors will be pleased with their solid 296% return over the last five years

The most you can lose on any stock (assuming you don't use leverage) is 100% of your money. But when you pick a company that is really flourishing, you can make more than 100%. Long term West Pharmaceutical Services, Inc. (NYSE:WST) shareholders would be well aware of this, since the stock is up 289% in five years. Also pleasing for shareholders was the 41% gain in the last three months.

Let's take a look at the underlying fundamentals over the longer term, and see if they've been consistent with shareholders returns.

View our latest analysis for West Pharmaceutical Services

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 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, West Pharmaceutical Services managed to grow its earnings per share at 31% a year. This EPS growth is remarkably close to the 31% average annual increase in the share price. This indicates that investor sentiment towards the company has not changed a great deal. In fact, the share price seems to largely reflect the EPS growth.

The company's earnings per share (over time) is depicted in the image below (click to see the exact numbers).


It is of course excellent to see how West Pharmaceutical Services has grown profits over the years, but the future is more important for shareholders. Take a more thorough look at West Pharmaceutical Services' financial health with this free report on its balance sheet.

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. It's fair to say that the TSR gives a more complete picture for stocks that pay a dividend. We note that for West Pharmaceutical Services the TSR over the last 5 years was 296%, 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

The total return of 7.5% received by West Pharmaceutical Services shareholders over the last year isn't far from the market return of -7.3%. The silver lining is that longer term investors would have made a total return of 32% per year over half a decade. If the fundamental data remains strong, and the share price is simply down on sentiment, then this could be an opportunity worth investigating. 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. For instance, we've identified 1 warning sign for West Pharmaceutical Services that you should be aware of.

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 American exchanges.

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

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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