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Sterling Construction Company (NASDAQ:STRL) shareholders have earned a 26% CAGR over the last five years

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The worst result, after buying shares in a company (assuming no leverage), would be if you lose all the money you put in. But on a lighter note, a good company can see its share price rise well over 100%. For example, the Sterling Construction Company, Inc. (NASDAQ:STRL) share price has soared 216% in the last half decade. Most would be very happy with that. In the last week the share price is up 1.1%.

Let's take a look at the underlying fundamentals over the longer term, and see if they've been consistent with shareholders returns.

See our latest analysis for Sterling Construction Company

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 five years of share price growth, Sterling Construction Company moved from a loss to profitability. 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 Sterling Construction Company share price has gained 99% in three years. In the same period, EPS is up 32% per year. This EPS growth is higher than the 26% 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 graphic below depicts how EPS has changed over time (unveil the exact values by clicking on the image).

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

It's good to see that there was some significant insider buying in the last three months. That's a positive. On the other hand, we think the revenue and earnings trends are much more meaningful measures of the business. Before buying or selling a stock, we always recommend a close examination of historic growth trends, available here..

A Different Perspective

Sterling Construction Company provided a TSR of 37% over the year. That's fairly close to the broader market return. Most would be happy with a gain, and it helps that the year's return is actually better than the average return over five years, which was 26%. It is possible that management foresight will bring growth well into the future, even if the share price slows down. 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. Consider risks, for instance. Every company has them, and we've spotted 2 warning signs for Sterling Construction Company you should know about.

Sterling Construction Company 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 US exchanges.

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.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.

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