Investing in HCA Healthcare (NYSE:HCA) five years ago would have delivered you a 167% gain

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HCA Healthcare, Inc. (NYSE:HCA) shareholders have seen the share price descend 14% over the month. But that doesn’t change the fact that the returns over the last five years have been very strong. It’s fair to say most would be happy with 157% the gain in that time. We think it’s more important to dwell on the long term returns than the short term returns. Only time will tell if there is still too much optimism currently reflected in the share price.

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

View our latest analysis for HCA Healthcare

In his essay The Superinvestors of Graham-and-Doddsville Warren Buffett described how share prices do not always rationally reflect the value of a business. By comparing earnings per share (EPS) and share price changes over time, we can get a feel for how investor attitudes to a company have morphed over time.

During five years of share price growth, HCA Healthcare achieved compound earnings per share (EPS) growth of 24% per year. This EPS growth is reasonably close to the 21% average annual increase in the share price. Therefore one could conclude that sentiment towards the shares hasn’t morphed very much. Indeed, it would appear the share price is reacting to the EPS.

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

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 HCA Healthcare’s earnings, revenue and cash flow is a great place to start, if you want to investigate the stock further.

What About Dividends?

As well as measuring the share price return, investors should also consider the total shareholder return (TSR). 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. We note that for HCA Healthcare the TSR over the last 5 years was 167%, 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 HCA Healthcare shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 5.7% over the last year. Of course, that includes the dividend. However, the TSR over five years, coming in at 22% per year, is even more impressive. Potential buyers might understandably feel they’ve missed the opportunity, but it’s always possible business is still firing on all cylinders. It’s always interesting to track share price performance over the longer term. But to understand HCA Healthcare better, we need to consider many other factors. Case in point: We’ve spotted 4 warning signs for HCA Healthcare you should be aware of.

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 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.