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The West Pharmaceutical Services (NYSE:WST) Share Price Has Gained 186%, So Why Not Pay It Some Attention?

Simply Wall St

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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. Long term West Pharmaceutical Services, Inc. ( NYSE:WST ) shareholders would be well aware of this, since the stock is up 186% in five years. Also pleasing for shareholders was the 16% gain in the last three months. The company reported its financial results recently; you can catch up on the latest numbers by reading our company report .

See our latest analysis for West Pharmaceutical Services

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 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 five years of share price growth, West Pharmaceutical Services achieved compound earnings per share (EPS) growth of 14% per year. This EPS growth is slower than the share price growth of 23% per year, over the same period. So it's fair to assume the market has a higher opinion of the business than it did five years ago. That's not necessarily surprising considering the five-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).

NYSE:WST Past and Future Earnings, May 13th 2019

It is of course excellent to see how West Pharmaceutical Services has grown profits over the years, but the future is more important for shareholders. It might be well worthwhile taking a look at our free report on how its financial position has changed over time .

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 West Pharmaceutical Services the TSR over the last 5 years was 196%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!

A Different Perspective

It's good to see that West Pharmaceutical Services has rewarded shareholders with a total shareholder return of 34% in the last twelve months. That's including the dividend. That's better than the annualised return of 24% over half a decade, implying that the company is doing better recently. Someone with an optimistic perspective could view the recent improvement in TSR as indicating that the business itself is getting better with time. Most investors take the time to check the data on insider transactions. You can click here to see if insiders have been buying or selling.

We will like West Pharmaceutical Services better if we see some big insider buys. While we wait, check out this free list of growing companies with considerable, recent, 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.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com . This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.