Investing in Netwealth Group (ASX:NWL) three years ago would have delivered you a 85% gain

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It hasn’t been the best quarter for Netwealth Group Limited (ASX:NWL) shareholders, since the share price has fallen 13% in that time. But don’t let that distract from the very nice return generated over three years. In fact, the company’s share price bested the return of its market index in that time, posting a gain of 78%.

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 Netwealth Group

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 three years of share price growth, Netwealth Group achieved compound earnings per share growth of 39% per year. The average annual share price increase of 21% is actually lower than the EPS growth. Therefore, it seems the market has moderated its expectations for growth, somewhat. Having said that, the market is still optimistic, given the P/E ratio of 66.06.

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

We like that insiders have been buying shares in the last twelve months. Having said that, most people consider earnings and revenue growth trends to be a more meaningful guide to the business. Dive deeper into the earnings by checking this interactive graph of Netwealth Group’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. It’s fair to say that the TSR gives a more complete picture for stocks that pay a dividend. As it happens, Netwealth Group’s TSR for the last 3 years was 85%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.

A Different Perspective

The last twelve months weren’t great for Netwealth Group shares, which cost holders 2.8%, including dividends, while the market was up about 33%. However, keep in mind that even the best stocks will sometimes underperform the market over a twelve month period. Fortunately the longer term story is brighter, with total returns averaging about 23% per year over three years. The recent sell-off could be an opportunity if the business remains sound, so it may be worth checking the fundamental data for signs of a long-term growth trend. 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 Netwealth Group that you should be aware of before investing here.

Netwealth Group 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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