Investing in SThree (LON:STEM) three years ago would have delivered you a 82% gain

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SThree plc (LON:STEM) shareholders might be concerned after seeing the share price drop 20% in the last quarter. But don’t let that distract from the very nice return generated over three years. After all, the share price is up a market-beating 70% in that time.

So let’s investigate and see if the longer term performance of the company has been in line with the underlying business’ progress.

View our latest analysis for SThree

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 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 three years of share price growth, SThree achieved compound earnings per share growth of 2.2% per year. This EPS growth is lower than the 19% average annual increase in the share price. So it’s fair to assume the market has a higher opinion of the business than it did three years ago. That’s not necessarily surprising considering the three-year track record of earnings growth.

The image below shows how EPS has tracked over time (if you click on the image you can see greater detail).

earnings-per-share-growth

This free interactive report on SThree’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. 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. Arguably, the TSR gives a more comprehensive picture of the return generated by a stock. We note that for SThree the TSR over the last 3 years was 82%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.

A Different Perspective

It’s nice to see that SThree shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 54% over the last year. And that does include the dividend. That’s better than the annualised return of 11% over half a decade, implying that the company is doing better recently. Given the share price momentum remains strong, it might be worth taking a closer look at the stock, lest you miss an opportunity. It’s always interesting to track share price performance over the longer term. But to understand SThree better, we need to consider many other factors. Consider risks, for instance. Every company has them, and we’ve spotted 2 warning signs for SThree you should know about.

Of course SThree 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.