Passive investing in index funds can generate returns that roughly match the overall market. But the truth is, you can make significant gains if you buy good quality businesses at the right price. For example, the American Homes 4 Rent (NYSE:AMH) share price is 68% higher than it was five years ago, which is more than the market average. In stark contrast, the stock price has actually fallen 12% 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.
View our latest analysis for American Homes 4 Rent
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.
During the last half decade, American Homes 4 Rent became profitable. That would generally be considered a positive, so we’d expect the share price to be up. Since the company was unprofitable five years ago, but not three years ago, it’s worth taking a look at the returns in the last three years, too. Indeed, the American Homes 4 Rent share price has gained 50% in three years. During the same period, EPS grew by 27% each year. This EPS growth is higher than the 14% average annual increase in the share price over the same three years. Therefore, it seems the market has moderated its expectations for growth, somewhat. Of course, with a P/E ratio of 75.83, the market remains optimistic.
The graphic below depicts how EPS has changed over time (unveil the exact values by clicking on the image).
It’s good to see that there was some significant insider buying in the last three months. That’s a positive. On the other hand, we think the revenue and earnings trends are much more meaningful measures of the business. It might be well worthwhile taking a look at ours free report on American Homes 4 Rent’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. 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 Homes 4 Rent the TSR over the last 5 years was 77%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. And there’s no prize for guessing that the dividend payments largely explain the divergence!
A Different Perspective
The total return of 10% received by American Homes 4 Rent shareholders over the last year isn’t far from the market return of -12%. Longer term investors wouldn’t be so upset, since they would have made 12%, each year, over five years. If the fundamental data remains strong, and the share price is simply down on sentiment, then this could be an opportunity worth investigating. 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. Like risks, for instance. Every company has them, and we’ve spotted them 4 warning signs for American Homes 4 Rent (of which 1 is potentially serious!) you should know about.
American Homes 4 Rent 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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