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The total return for Copart (NASDAQ:CPRT) investors has risen faster than earnings growth over the last five years

It might be of some concern to shareholders to see the Copart, Inc. (NASDAQ:CPRT) share price down 15% in the last month. But that doesn't change the fact that the returns over the last five years have been very strong. Indeed, the share price is up an impressive 226% in that time. To some, the recent pullback wouldn't be surprising after such a fast rise. The more important question is whether the stock is too cheap or too expensive today. While the long term returns are impressive, we do have some sympathy for those who bought more recently, given the 24% drop, in the last year.

While this past week has detracted from the company's five-year return, let's look at the recent trends of the underlying business and see if the gains have been in alignment.

Check out our latest analysis for Copart

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 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.

Over half a decade, Copart managed to grow its earnings per share at 22% a year. So the EPS growth rate is rather close to the annualized share price gain of 27% per year. This indicates that investor sentiment towards the company has not changed a great deal. Rather, the share price has approximately tracked EPS 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're pleased to report that the CEO is remunerated more modestly than most CEOs at similarly capitalized companies. It's always worth keeping an eye on CEO pay, but a more important question is whether the company will grow earnings throughout the years. Dive deeper into the earnings by checking this interactive graph of Copart's earnings, revenue and cash flow.

A Different Perspective

While the broader market lost about 17% in the twelve months, Copart shareholders did even worse, losing 24%. Having said that, it's inevitable that some stocks will be oversold in a falling market. The key is to keep your eyes on the fundamental developments. On the bright side, long term shareholders have made money, with a gain of 27% per year over half a decade. If the fundamental data continues to indicate long term sustainable growth, the current sell-off could be an opportunity worth considering. Before deciding if you like the current share price, check how Copart scores on these 3 valuation metrics.

Of course Copart 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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