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Those who invested in Tractor Supply (NASDAQ:TSCO) five years ago are up 242%

The worst result, after buying shares in a company (assuming no leverage), would be if you lose all the money you put in. But when you pick a company that is really flourishing, you can make more than 100%. For example, the Tractor Supply Company (NASDAQ:TSCO) share price has soared 219% in the last half decade. Most would be very happy with that. On top of that, the share price is up 18% in about a quarter. This could be related to the recent financial results, released recently - you can catch up on the most recent data by reading our company report.

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 Tractor Supply

While the efficient markets hypothesis continues to be taught by some, it has been proven that markets are over-reactive dynamic systems, and investors are not always rational. 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 five years of share price growth, Tractor Supply achieved compound earnings per share (EPS) growth of 23% per year. So the EPS growth rate is rather close to the annualized share price gain of 26% per year. That suggests that the market sentiment around the company hasn't changed much over that time. Indeed, it would appear the share price is reacting to the EPS.

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 know that Tractor Supply 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?

It is important to consider the total shareholder return, as well as the share price return, for any given stock. 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. As it happens, Tractor Supply's TSR for the last 5 years was 242%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. And there's no prize for guessing that the dividend payments largely explain the divergence!

A Different Perspective

Although it hurts that Tractor Supply returned a loss of 1.0% in the last twelve months, the broader market was actually worse, returning a loss of 18%. Of course, the long term returns are far more important and the good news is that over five years, the stock has returned 28% for each year. In the best case scenario the last year is just a temporary blip on the journey to a brighter future. 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. Case in point: We've spotted 4 warning signs for Tractor Supply you should be aware of, and 1 of them shouldn't be ignored.

Of course Tractor Supply may not be the best stock to buy. So you may wish to see this free collection of growth stocks.

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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