American Express Company (NYSE:AXP) shareholders might be concerned after seeing the share price drop 11% in the last month. But the silver lining is the stock is up over five years. Unfortunately its return of 47% is below the market return of 50%. While the long term returns are impressive, we do have some sympathy for those who bought more recently, given the 22% drop, in the last year.
While the stock has fallen 3.8% this week, it's worth focusing on the longer term and seeing if the stocks historical returns have been driven by the underlying fundamentals.
Check out our latest analysis for American Express
To quote Buffett, 'Ships will sail around the world but the Flat Earth Society will flourish. There will continue to be wide discrepancies between price and value in the marketplace...' 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, American Express achieved compound earnings per share (EPS) growth of 15% per year. This EPS growth is higher than the 8% average annual increase in the share price. Therefore, it seems the market has become relatively pessimistic about the company.
The company's earnings per share (over time) is depicted in the image below (click to see the exact numbers).
We know that American Express has improved its bottom line lately, but is it going to grow revenue? This free report showing analyst revenue forecasts should help you figure out if the EPS growth can be sustained.
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. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. We note that for American Express the TSR over the last 5 years was 58%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!
A Different Perspective
The total return of 22% received by American Express shareholders over the last year isn't far from the market return of -22%. The silver lining is that longer term investors would have made a total return of 10% per year over half a decade. If the fundamental data remains strong, and the share price is simply down on sentiment, then this could be an opportunity worth investigating. It's always interesting to track share price performance over the longer term. But to understand American Express better, we need to consider many other factors. Consider for instance, the ever-present spectre of investment risk. We've identified 1 warning sign with American Express , and understanding them should be part of your investment process.
If you like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).
Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on US 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.
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