Novanta Inc. (NASDAQ:NOVT) shareholders might be concerned after seeing the share price drop 25% in the last month. But over five years returns have been remarkably great. In fact, during that period, the share price climbed 450%. Impressive! So it might be that some shareholders are taking profits after good performance. But the real question is whether the business fundamentals can improve over the long term.
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.
During the last half decade, Novanta became profitable. That kind of transition can be an inflection point that justifies a strong share price gain, just as we have seen here. Given that the company made a profit three years ago, but not five years ago, it is worth looking at the share price returns over the last three years, too. Indeed, the Novanta share price has gained 166% in three years. Meanwhile, EPS is up 22% per year. Notably, the EPS growth has been slower than the annualised share price gain of 39% over three years. So one can reasonably conclude the market is more enthusiastic about the stock than it was three years ago.
The image below shows how EPS has tracked over time (if you click on the image you can see greater detail).
Before buying or selling a stock, we always recommend a close examination of historic growth trends, available here.
A Different Perspective
Novanta shareholders are down 15% over twelve months, which isn't far from the market return of -16%. The silver lining is that longer term investors would have made a total return of 41% per year over half a decade. If the stock price has been impacted by changing sentiment, rather than deteriorating business conditions, it could spell opportunity. 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 3 warning signs for Novanta 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.
If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned.
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