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These days it's easy to simply buy an index fund, and your returns should (roughly) match the market. But you can significantly boost your returns by picking above-average stocks. For example, the TPG Telecom Limited (ASX:TPG) share price is up 15% in the last 1 year, clearly besting the market return of around 0.5% (not including dividends). That's a solid performance by our standards! Note that businesses generally develop over the long term, so the returns over the last year might not reflect a long term trend.
Since the stock has added AU$892m to its market cap in the past week alone, let's see if underlying performance has been driving long-term returns.
While TPG Telecom made a small profit, in the last year, we think that the market is probably more focussed on the top line growth at the moment. Generally speaking, we'd consider a stock like this alongside loss-making companies, simply because the quantum of the profit is so low. For shareholders to have confidence a company will grow profits significantly, it must grow revenue.
TPG Telecom grew its revenue by 22% last year. That's a fairly respectable growth rate. Buyers pushed the share price 15% in response, which isn't unreasonable. If revenue stays on trend, there may be plenty more share price gains to come. But it's crucial to check profitability and cash flow before forming a view on the future.
The image below shows how earnings and revenue have tracked over time (if you click on the image you can see greater detail).
TPG Telecom is well known by investors, and plenty of clever analysts have tried to predict the future profit levels. Given we have quite a good number of analyst forecasts, it might be well worth checking out this free chart depicting consensus estimates.
What About Dividends?
As well as measuring the share price return, investors should also consider the total shareholder return (TSR). 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. Arguably, the TSR gives a more comprehensive picture of the return generated by a stock. We note that for TPG Telecom the TSR over the last 1 year was 18%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. And there's no prize for guessing that the dividend payments largely explain the divergence!
A Different Perspective
TPG Telecom shareholders should be happy with the total gain of 18% over the last twelve months, including dividends. That's better than the more recent three month gain of 3.1%, implying that share price has plateaued recently. Having said that, we doubt shareholders would be concerned. It seems the market is simply waiting on more information, because if the business delivers so will the share price (eventually). 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. Even so, be aware that TPG Telecom is showing 2 warning signs in our investment analysis , you should know about...
But note: TPG Telecom may not be the best stock to buy. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with past earnings growth (and further growth forecast).
Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on AU exchanges.
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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.