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Those who invested in Trinity Industries (NYSE:TRN) three years ago are up 74%

By buying an index fund, you can roughly match the market return with ease. But many of us dare to dream of bigger returns, and build a portfolio ourselves. Just take a look at Trinity Industries, Inc. (NYSE:TRN), which is up 57%, over three years, soundly beating the market return of 41% (not including dividends).

So let's investigate and see if the longer term performance of the company has been in line with the underlying business' progress.

See our latest analysis for Trinity Industries

In his essay The Superinvestors of Graham-and-Doddsville Warren Buffett described how share prices do not always rationally reflect the value of a business. One way to examine how market sentiment has changed over time is to look at the interaction between a company's share price and its earnings per share (EPS).

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During three years of share price growth, Trinity Industries achieved compound earnings per share growth of 3.0% per year. This EPS growth is lower than the 16% average annual increase in the share price. This indicates that the market is feeling more optimistic on the stock, after the last few years of progress. That's not necessarily surprising considering the three-year track record of earnings growth.

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 Trinity Industries has improved its bottom line lately, but is it going to grow revenue? This free report showing analyst revenue forecasts should help you figure out if the EPS growth can be sustained.

What About Dividends?

When looking at investment returns, it is important to consider the difference between total shareholder return (TSR) and share price return. 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. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. As it happens, Trinity Industries' TSR for the last 3 years was 74%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.

A Different Perspective

We regret to report that Trinity Industries shareholders are down 10% for the year (even including dividends). Unfortunately, that's worse than the broader market decline of 3.8%. However, it could simply be that the share price has been impacted by broader market jitters. It might be worth keeping an eye on the fundamentals, in case there's a good opportunity. On the bright side, long term shareholders have made money, with a gain of 6% per year over half a decade. It could be that the recent sell-off is an opportunity, so it may be worth checking the fundamental data for signs of a long term growth trend. 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. For instance, we've identified 3 warning signs for Trinity Industries (2 are potentially serious) that you should be aware of.

If you would prefer to check out another company -- one with potentially superior financials -- then do not miss this free list of companies that have proven they can 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.

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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