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Investing in Schaffer (ASX:SFC) five years ago would have delivered you a 251% gain

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When you buy shares in a company, it’s worth keeping in mind the possibility that it could fail, and you could lose your money. But on the bright side, you can make far more than 100% on a really good stock. One great example is Schaffer Corporation Limited (ASX:SFC) which saw its share price drive 184% higher over five years. The last week saw the share price soften some 3.3%.

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

See our latest analysis for Schaffer

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 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, Schaffer achieved compound earnings per share (EPS) growth of 95% per year. The EPS growth is more impressive than the yearly share price gain of 23% over the same period. So one could conclude that the broader market has become more cautious towards the stock.

You can see how EPS has changed over time in the image below (click on the chart to see the exact values).

earnings-per-share-growth

It’s good to see that there was some significant insider buying in the last three months. That’s a positive. That said, we think earnings and revenue growth trends are even more important factors to consider. This free interactive report on Schaffer’s earnings, revenue and cash flow is a great place to start, if you want to investigate the stock further.

What About Dividends?

It is important to consider the total shareholder return, as well as the share price return, for any given stock. Whereas the share price return only reflects the change in the share price, the TSR includes the value of dividends (assuming they were reinvested) and the benefit of any discounted capital raising or spin-off. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. As it happens, Schaffer’s TSR for the last 5 years was 251%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. And there’s no prize for guessing that the dividend payments largely explain the divergence!

A Different Perspective

Investors in Schaffer had a tough year, with a total loss of 5.4% (including dividends), against a market gain of about 6.5%. Even the share prices of good stocks drop sometimes, but we want to see improvements in the fundamental metrics of a business, before getting too interested. On the bright side, long term shareholders have made money, with a gain of 29% per year over half a decade. If the fundamental data continues to indicate long term sustainable growth, the current sell-off could be an opportunity worth considering. 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. For example, we’ve discovered 2 warning signs for Schaffer that you should be aware of before investing here.

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 AU exchanges.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.

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.