Investing in ALS (ASX:ALQ) five years ago would have delivered you a 87% gain

Stock pickers are generally looking for stocks that will outperform the broader market. And while active stock picking involves risks (and requires diversification) it can also provide excess returns. To wit, the ALS share price has climbed 63% in five years, easily topping the market return of 26% (ignoring dividends). However, more recent returns haven’t been as impressive as that, with the stock returning just 5.3% in the last year , including dividends .

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

See our latest analysis for ALS

While markets are a powerful pricing mechanism, share prices reflect investor sentiment, not just underlying business performance. 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 five years of share price growth, ALS achieved compound earnings per share (EPS) growth of 12% per year. This EPS growth is higher than the 10% average annual increase in the share price. Therefore, it seems the market has become relatively pessimistic about the company.

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

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

earnings-per-share-growth

We like that insiders have been buying shares in the last twelve months. Even so, future earnings will be far more important to whether current shareholders make money. It might be well worthwhile taking a look at our free report on ALS’ earnings, revenue and cash flow.

What About Dividends?

As well as measuring the share price return, investors should also consider the total shareholder return (TSR). 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. Arguably, the TSR gives a more comprehensive picture of the return generated by a stock. We note that for ALS the TSR over the last 5 years was 87%, 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

ALS shareholders gained a total return of 5.3% during the year. Unfortunately this falls short of the market return. If we look back over five years, the returns are even better, coming in at 13% per year for five years. It’s quite possible the business continues to execute with prowess, even as the share price gains are slowing. 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. Even so, be aware that ALS is showing 2 warning signs in our investment analysis , you should know about…

ALS is not the only stock insiders are buying. So take a peek at this free list of growing companies with insider buying.

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


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