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Amazon.com's (NASDAQ:AMZN) five-year total shareholder returns outpace the underlying earnings growth

Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) shareholders have seen the share price descend 17% over the month. But that scarcely detracts from the really solid long term returns generated by the company over five years. It's fair to say most would be happy with 137% the gain in that time. So while it's never fun to see a share price fall, it's important to look at a longer time horizon. Ultimately business performance will determine whether the stock price continues the positive long term trend. While the long term returns are impressive, we do have some sympathy for those who bought more recently, given the 34% drop, in the last year.

While this past week has detracted from the company's five-year return, let's look at the recent trends of the underlying business and see if the gains have been in alignment.

See our latest analysis for Amazon.com

In his essay The Superinvestors of Graham-and-Doddsville Warren Buffett described how share prices do not always rationally reflect the value of a business. One way to examine how market sentiment has changed over time is to look at the interaction between a company's share price and its earnings per share (EPS).

Over half a decade, Amazon.com managed to grow its earnings per share at 41% a year. This EPS growth is higher than the 19% average annual increase in the share price. Therefore, it seems the market has become relatively pessimistic about the company. Of course, with a P/E ratio of 99.87, the market remains optimistic.

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 might be well worthwhile taking a look at our free report on Amazon.com's earnings, revenue and cash flow.

A Different Perspective

We regret to report that Amazon.com shareholders are down 34% for the year. Unfortunately, that's worse than the broader market decline of 22%. However, it could simply be that the share price has been impacted by broader market jitters. It might be worth keeping an eye on the fundamentals, in case there's a good opportunity. Longer term investors wouldn't be so upset, since they would have made 19%, each year, over five years. It could be that the recent sell-off is an opportunity, so it may be worth checking the fundamental data for signs of a long term growth trend. 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. Take risks, for example - Amazon.com has 2 warning signs (and 1 which is concerning) we think you should know about.

If you like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).

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