While Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) shareholders are probably generally happy, the stock hasn’t had particularly good run recently, with the share price falling 15% in the last quarter. But in stark contrast, the returns over the last half decade have impressed. We think most investors would be happy with the 180% return, over that period. To some, the recent pullback wouldn’t be surprising after such a fast rise. Ultimately business performance will determine whether the stock price continues the positive long term trend. While the long term returns are impressive, we do have some sympathy for those who bought more recently, given the 29% drop, in the last year.
So let’s assess the underlying fundamentals over the last 5 years and see if they’ve moved in lock-step with shareholder returns.
To paraphrase Benjamin Graham: Over the short term the market is a voting machine, but over the long term it’s a weighing machine. 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, Microsoft managed to grow its earnings per share at 22% a year. This EPS growth is remarkably close to the 23% average annual increase in the share price. This indicates that investor sentiment towards the company has not changed a great deal. Indeed, it would appear the share price is reacting to the EPS.
The company’s earnings per share (over time) is depicted in the image below (click to see the exact numbers).
We consider it positive that insiders have made significant purchases in the last year. Even so, future earnings will be far more important to whether current shareholders make money. This free interactive report on Microsoft’s earnings, revenue and cash flow is a great place to start, if you want to investigate the stock further.
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 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 Microsoft, it has a TSR of 198% for the last 5 years. That exceeds its share price return that we previously mentioned. And there’s no prize for guessing that the dividend payments largely explain the divergence!
A Different Perspective
We regret to report that Microsoft shareholders are down 28% for the year (even including dividends). Unfortunately, that’s worse than the broader market decline of 21%. However, it could simply be that the share price has been impacted by broader market jitters. It might be worth keeping an eye on the fundamentals, in case there’s a good opportunity. On the bright side, long term shareholders have made money, with a gain of 24% per year over half a decade. It could be that the recent sell-off is an opportunity, so it may be worth checking the fundamental data for signs of a long term growth trend. 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. Even so, be aware that Microsoft is showing 1 warning sign in our investment analysis , you should know about…
Microsoft is not the only stock insiders are buying. So take a peek at this free list of growing companies with insider buying.
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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