Investing in ASX (ASX:ASX) five years ago would have delivered you a 134% gain

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Stock pickers are generally looking for stocks that will outperform the broader market. And the truth is, you can make significant gains if you buy good quality businesses at the right price. To wit, the ASX share price has climbed 96% in five years, easily topping the market return of 31% (ignoring dividends). On the other hand, the more recent gains haven’t been so impressive, with shareholders gaining just 21% , including dividends .

Let’s take a look at the underlying fundamentals over the longer term, and see if they’ve been consistent with shareholders returns.

Check out our latest analysis for ASX

There is no denying that markets are sometimes efficient, but prices do not always reflect underlying business performance. 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, ASX managed to grow its earnings per share at 2.4% a year. This EPS growth is lower than the 14% 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.

The image below shows how EPS has tracked over time (if you click on the image you can see greater detail).

earnings-per-share-growth

We consider it positive that insiders have made significant purchases in the last year. Having said that, most people consider earnings and revenue growth trends to be a more meaningful guide to the business. It might be well worthwhile taking a look at our free report on ASX’s earnings, revenue and cash flow.

What About Dividends?

As well as measuring the share price return, investors should also consider the total shareholder return (TSR). The TSR incorporates the value of any spin-offs or discounted capital raisings, along with any dividends, based on the assumption that the dividends are reinvested. It’s fair to say that the TSR gives a more complete picture for stocks that pay a dividend. In the case of ASX, it has a TSR of 134% for the last 5 years. That exceeds its share price return that we previously mentioned. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.

A Different Perspective

ASX’s TSR for the year was broadly in line with the market average, at 21%. That gain looks pretty satisfying, and it is even better than the five-year TSR of 19% per year. Even if the share price growth slows down from here, there’s a good chance that this is business worth watching in the long term. 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. Take risks, for example – ASX has 2 warning signs (and 1 which is potentially serious) we think you should know about.

ASX is not the only stock that insiders are buying. 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 AU exchanges.

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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