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Investing in Ampol (ASX:ALD) three years ago would have delivered you a 93% gain

One simple way to benefit from the stock market is to buy an index fund. But if you choose individual stocks with prowess, you can make superior returns. Just take a look at Ampol Limited (ASX:ALD), which is up 60%, over three years, soundly beating the market return of 9.3% (not including dividends). On the other hand, the returns haven't been quite so good recently, with shareholders up just 35% , including dividends .

So let's assess the underlying fundamentals over the last 3 years and see if they've moved in lock-step with shareholder returns.

Check out our latest analysis for Ampol

To quote Buffett, 'Ships will sail around the world but the Flat Earth Society will flourish. There will continue to be wide discrepancies between price and value in the marketplace...' 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.

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During three years of share price growth, Ampol moved from a loss to profitability. So we would expect a higher share price over the period.

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

It is of course excellent to see how Ampol has grown profits over the years, but the future is more important for shareholders. If you are thinking of buying or selling Ampol stock, you should check out this FREE detailed report on its balance sheet.

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. Arguably, the TSR gives a more comprehensive picture of the return generated by a stock. In the case of Ampol, it has a TSR of 93% for the last 3 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

We're pleased to report that Ampol shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 35% over one year. Of course, that includes the dividend. That's better than the annualised return of 12% over half a decade, implying that the company is doing better recently. In the best case scenario, this may hint at some real business momentum, implying that now could be a great time to delve deeper. 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 2 warning signs for Ampol that you should be aware of.

If you like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).

Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on Australian 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.