Generally speaking the aim of active stock picking is to find companies that provide returns that are superior to the market average. And while active stock picking involves risks (and requires diversification) it can also provide excess returns. To wit, the Howmet Aerospace share price has climbed 58% in five years, easily topping the market return of 44% (ignoring dividends). On the other hand, the more recent gains haven't been so impressive, with shareholders gaining just 23% , including dividends .
Now it's worth having a look at the company's fundamentals too, because that will help us determine if the long term shareholder return has matched the performance of the underlying business.
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 the five years of share price growth, Howmet Aerospace moved from a loss to profitability. That would generally be considered a positive, so we'd expect the share price to be up. Since the company was unprofitable five years ago, but not three years ago, it's worth taking a look at the returns in the last three years, too. We can see that the Howmet Aerospace share price is up 20% in the last three years. During the same period, EPS grew by 29% each year. This EPS growth is higher than the 6% average annual increase in the share price over the same three years. So you might conclude the market is a little more cautious about the stock, these days.
The company's earnings per share (over time) is depicted in the image below (click to see the exact numbers).
We know that Howmet Aerospace has improved its bottom line lately, but is it going to grow revenue? If you're interested, you could check this free report showing consensus revenue forecasts.
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. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. In the case of Howmet Aerospace, it has a TSR of 110% for the last 5 years. That exceeds its share price return that we previously mentioned. And there's no prize for guessing that the dividend payments largely explain the divergence!
A Different Perspective
It's good to see that Howmet Aerospace has rewarded shareholders with a total shareholder return of 23% in the last twelve months. That's including the dividend. That gain is better than the annual TSR over five years, which is 16%. Therefore it seems like sentiment around the company has been positive lately. In the best case scenario, this may hint at some real business momentum, implying that now could be a great time to delve deeper. 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. For example, we've discovered 2 warning signs for Howmet Aerospace (1 is a bit unpleasant!) that you should be aware of before investing here.
We will like Howmet Aerospace better if we see some big insider buys. While we wait, check out this free list of growing companies with considerable, recent, insider buying.
Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on US exchanges.
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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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