The simplest way to invest in stocks is to buy exchange traded funds. But if you pick the right individual stocks, you could make more than that. For example, the Plaza Retail REIT (TSE:PLZ.UN) share price is up 22% in the last 1 year, clearly besting the market return of around 9.9% (not including dividends). If it can keep that out-performance up over the long term, investors will do very well! Having said that, the longer term returns aren't so impressive, with stock gaining just 17% in three years.
Let's take a look at the underlying fundamentals over the longer term, and see if they've been consistent with shareholders returns.
To paraphrase Benjamin Graham: Over the short term the market is a voting machine, but over the long term it's a weighing machine. By comparing earnings per share (EPS) and share price changes over time, we can get a feel for how investor attitudes to a company have morphed over time.
During the last year Plaza Retail REIT grew its earnings per share, moving from a loss to a profit.
We think the growth looks very prospective, so we're not surprised the market liked it too. Generally speaking the profitability inflection point is a great time to research a company closely, lest you miss an opportunity to profit.
The image below shows how EPS has tracked over time (if you click on the image you can see greater detail).
We like that insiders have been buying shares in the last twelve months. Having said that, most people consider earnings and revenue growth trends to be a more meaningful guide to the business. Before buying or selling a stock, we always recommend a close examination of historic growth trends, available here..
What About Dividends?
As well as measuring the share price return, investors should also consider the total shareholder return (TSR). Whereas the share price return only reflects the change in the share price, the TSR includes the value of dividends (assuming they were reinvested) and the benefit of any discounted capital raising or spin-off. Arguably, the TSR gives a more comprehensive picture of the return generated by a stock. As it happens, Plaza Retail REIT's TSR for the last 1 year was 29%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!
A Different Perspective
It's nice to see that Plaza Retail REIT shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 29% over the last year. Of course, that includes the dividend. That's better than the annualised return of 7% over half a decade, implying that the company is doing better recently. Someone with an optimistic perspective could view the recent improvement in TSR as indicating that the business itself is getting better with time. It's always interesting to track share price performance over the longer term. But to understand Plaza Retail REIT better, we need to consider many other factors. Even so, be aware that Plaza Retail REIT is showing 2 warning signs in our investment analysis , and 1 of those is significant...
There are plenty of other companies that have insiders buying up shares. You probably do not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying.
Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on CA 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.