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The five-year decline in earnings for Autoliv NYSE:ALV) isn't encouraging, but shareholders are still up 15% over that period

·3 min read

While not a mind-blowing move, it is good to see that the Autoliv, Inc. (NYSE:ALV) share price has gained 13% in the last three months. But if you look at the last five years the returns have not been good. You would have done a lot better buying an index fund, since the stock has dropped 26% in that half decade.

Given the past week has been tough on shareholders, let's investigate the fundamentals and see what we can learn.

See our latest analysis for Autoliv

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 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.

Looking back five years, both Autoliv's share price and EPS declined; the latter at a rate of 9.8% per year. This fall in the EPS is worse than the 6% compound annual share price fall. So investors might expect EPS to bounce back -- or they may have previously foreseen the EPS decline.

You can see below how EPS has changed over time (discover the exact values by clicking on the image).

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

We're pleased to report that the CEO is remunerated more modestly than most CEOs at similarly capitalized companies. It's always worth keeping an eye on CEO pay, but a more important question is whether the company will grow earnings throughout the years. It might be well worthwhile taking a look at our free report on Autoliv's 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 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 Autoliv the TSR over the last 5 years was 15%, 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

We regret to report that Autoliv shareholders are down 16% for the year (even including dividends). Unfortunately, that's worse than the broader market decline of 12%. Having said that, it's inevitable that some stocks will be oversold in a falling market. The key is to keep your eyes on the fundamental developments. Longer term investors wouldn't be so upset, since they would have made 3%, 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. It's always interesting to track share price performance over the longer term. But to understand Autoliv better, we need to consider many other factors. Take risks, for example - Autoliv has 4 warning signs we think you should be aware of.

Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking elsewhere. So take a peek at this free list of companies we expect will 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.

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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