Passive investing in index funds can generate returns that roughly match the overall market. But one can do better than that by picking better than average stocks (as part of a diversified portfolio). For example, the Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (NYSE:BMY) share price is up 44% in the last 1 year, clearly besting the market decline of around 15% (not including dividends). That's a solid performance by our standards! Looking back further, the stock price is 35% higher than it was three years ago.
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. 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).
During the last year Bristol-Myers Squibb grew its earnings per share, moving from a loss to a profit.
When a company is just on the edge of profitability it can be well worth considering other metrics in order to more precisely gauge growth (and therefore understand share price movements).
Revenue was pretty stable on last year, so deeper research might be needed to explain the share price rise.
The company's revenue and earnings (over time) are depicted in the image below (click to see the exact numbers).
Bristol-Myers Squibb is a well known stock, with plenty of analyst coverage, suggesting some visibility into future growth. You can see what analysts are predicting for Bristol-Myers Squibb in this interactive graph of future profit estimates.
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, Bristol-Myers Squibb's TSR for the last 1 year was 49%, 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
It's nice to see that Bristol-Myers Squibb shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 49% over the last year. That's including the dividend. That gain is better than the annual TSR over five years, which is 9%. Therefore it seems like sentiment around the company has been positive lately. In the best case scenario, this may hint at some real business momentum, implying that now could be a great time to delve deeper. 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 for instance, the ever-present spectre of investment risk. We've identified 3 warning signs with Bristol-Myers Squibb , and understanding them should be part of your investment process.
Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking elsewhere. So take a peek at this free list of companies we expect will 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.
Join A Paid User Research Session
You’ll receive a US$30 Amazon Gift card for 1 hour of your time while helping us build better investing tools for the individual investors like yourself. Sign up here