The main point of investing for the long term is to make money. Better yet, you’d like to see the share price move up more than the market average. But Universal Health Services, Inc. (NYSE:UHS) has fallen short of that second goal, with a share price rise of 17% over five years, which is below the market return. Zooming in, the stock is up a respectable 7.3% in the last year.
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 Universal Health Services
To quote Buffett, ‘Ships will sail around the world but the Flat Earth Society will flourish. There will continue to be wide discrepancies between price and value in the marketplace…’ 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 five years of share price growth, Universal Health Services achieved compound earnings per share (EPS) growth of 12% per year. The EPS growth is more impressive than the yearly share price gain of 3% over the same period. Therefore, it seems the market has become relatively pessimistic about the company. The reasonably low P/E ratio of 11.23 also suggests market apprehension.
The image below shows how EPS has tracked over time (if you click on the image you can see greater detail).
It’s probably worth noting that the CEO is paid less than the median at similar sized companies. It’s always worth keeping an eye on CEO pay, but a more important question is whether the company will grow earnings throughout the years. Dive deeper into the earnings by checking this interactive graph of Universal Health Services’ 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 incorporates the value of any spin-offs or discounted capital raisings, along with any dividends, based on the assumption that the dividends are reinvested. It’s fair to say that the TSR gives a more complete picture for stocks that pay a dividend. We note that for Universal Health Services the TSR over the last 5 years was 19%, 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 Universal Health Services shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 7.9% over the last year. That’s including the dividend. Since the one-year TSR is better than the five-year TSR (the latter coming in at 4% per year), it would seem that the stock’s performance has improved in recent times. Someone with an optimistic perspective could view the recent improvement in TSR as indicating that the business itself is getting better with time. 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. Consider risks, for instance. Every company has them, and we’ve spotted 2 warning signs for Universal Health Services you should know about.
We will like Universal Health 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.
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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.