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The total return for Antofagasta (LON:ANTO) investors has risen faster than earnings growth over the last five years

Stock pickers are generally looking for stocks that will outperform the broader market. And while active stock picking involves risks (and requires diversification) it can also provide excess returns. For example, long term Antofagasta plc (LON:ANTO) shareholders have enjoyed a 77% share price rise over the last half decade, well in excess of the market decline of around 0.7% (not including dividends). However, more recent returns haven't been as impressive as that, with the stock returning just 29% in the last year , including dividends .

Since the long term performance has been good but there's been a recent pullback of 3.0%, let's check if the fundamentals match the share price.

Check out our latest analysis for Antofagasta

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, Antofagasta achieved compound earnings per share (EPS) growth of 20% per year. This EPS growth is higher than the 12% average annual increase in the share price. Therefore, it seems the market has become relatively pessimistic about the company. This cautious sentiment is reflected in its (fairly low) P/E ratio of 10.43.

The graphic below depicts how EPS has changed over time (unveil the exact values by clicking on the image).

earnings-per-share-growth
earnings-per-share-growth

We know that Antofagasta has improved its bottom line over the last three years, but what does the future have in store? This free interactive report on Antofagasta's balance sheet strength is a great place to start, if you want to investigate the stock further.

What About Dividends?

It is important to consider the total shareholder return, as well as the share price return, for any given stock. 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. It's fair to say that the TSR gives a more complete picture for stocks that pay a dividend. As it happens, Antofagasta's TSR for the last 5 years was 112%, 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're pleased to report that Antofagasta shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 29% over one year. That's including the dividend. That's better than the annualised return of 16% 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 Antofagasta better, we need to consider many other factors. Like risks, for instance. Every company has them, and we've spotted 3 warning signs for Antofagasta (of which 1 doesn't sit too well with us!) you should know about.

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 British 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.