The most you can lose on any stock (assuming you don't use leverage) is 100% of your money. But on the bright side, if you buy shares in a high quality company at the right price, you can gain well over 100%. One great example is Abbott Laboratories (NYSE:ABT) which saw its share price drive 159% higher over five years. Also pleasing for shareholders was the 17% gain in the last three months. But this move may well have been assisted by the reasonably buoyant market (up 9.1% in 90 days).
In his essay The Superinvestors of Graham-and-Doddsville Warren Buffett described how share prices do not always rationally reflect the value of a business. 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 five years of share price growth, Abbott Laboratories achieved compound earnings per share (EPS) growth of 2.0% per year. This EPS growth is lower than the 21% average annual increase in the share price. So it's fair to assume the market has a higher opinion of the business than it did five years ago. That's not necessarily surprising considering the five-year track record of earnings growth. This favorable sentiment is reflected in its (fairly optimistic) P/E ratio of 62.53.
You can see how EPS has changed over time in the image below (click on the chart to see the exact values).
It is of course excellent to see how Abbott Laboratories has grown profits over the years, but the future is more important for shareholders. Take a more thorough look at Abbott Laboratories' financial health with this free report on its balance sheet.
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, Abbott Laboratories' TSR for the last 5 years was 185%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.
A Different Perspective
It's good to see that Abbott Laboratories has rewarded shareholders with a total shareholder return of 38% in the last twelve months. And that does include the dividend. That's better than the annualised return of 23% 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. It's always interesting to track share price performance over the longer term. But to understand Abbott Laboratories better, we need to consider many other factors. Take risks, for example - Abbott Laboratories has 2 warning signs we think you should be aware of.
For those who like to find winning investments this free list of growing companies with recent insider purchasing, could be just the ticket.
Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on US exchanges.
This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. 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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