Those who invested in FW Thorpe (LON:TFW) three years ago are up 40%

·3 min read

By buying an index fund, you can roughly match the market return with ease. But if you pick the right individual stocks, you could make more than that. For example, the FW Thorpe Plc (LON:TFW) share price is up 32% in the last three years, clearly besting the market decline of around 1.9% (not including dividends). However, more recent returns haven't been as impressive as that, with the stock returning just 8.7% in the last year , including dividends .

So let's assess the underlying fundamentals over the last 3 years and see if they've moved in lock-step with shareholder returns.

See our latest analysis for FW Thorpe

While the efficient markets hypothesis continues to be taught by some, it has been proven that markets are over-reactive dynamic systems, and investors are not always rational. One imperfect but simple way to consider how the market perception of a company has shifted is to compare the change in the earnings per share (EPS) with the share price movement.

During the three years of share price growth, FW Thorpe actually saw its earnings per share (EPS) drop 0.6% per year.

Based on these numbers, we think that the decline in earnings per share may not be a good representation of how the business has changed over the years. So other metrics may hold the key to understanding what is influencing investors.

Languishing at just 1.9%, we doubt the dividend is doing much to prop up the share price. It may well be that FW Thorpe revenue growth rate of 3.5% over three years has convinced shareholders to believe in a brighter future. If the company is being managed for the long term good, today's shareholders might be right to hold on.

The graphic below depicts how earnings and revenue have changed over time (unveil the exact values by clicking on the image).

earnings-and-revenue-growth
earnings-and-revenue-growth

It's probably worth noting that the CEO is paid less than the median at similar sized 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. It might be well worthwhile taking a look at our free report on FW Thorpe's earnings, revenue and cash flow.

What About Dividends?

When looking at investment returns, it is important to consider the difference between total shareholder return (TSR) and share price return. 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. As it happens, FW Thorpe's TSR for the last 3 years was 40%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!

A Different Perspective

We're pleased to report that FW Thorpe shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 8.7% over one year. Of course, that includes the dividend. That gain is better than the annual TSR over five years, which is 3%. Therefore it seems like sentiment around the company has been positive lately. In the best case scenario, this may hint at some real business momentum, implying that now could be a great time to delve deeper. While it is well worth considering the different impacts that market conditions can have on the share price, there are other factors that are even more important. To that end, you should be aware of the 3 warning signs we've spotted with FW Thorpe .

Of course FW Thorpe 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 GB 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.