If You Had Bought Probiotec (ASX:PBP) Stock Five Years Ago, You Could Pocket A 974% Gain Today

Simply Wall St

It might be of some concern to shareholders to see the Probiotec Limited (ASX:PBP) share price down 14% in the last month. But over five years returns have been remarkably great. In that time, the share price has soared some 974% higher! So we don't think the recent decline in the share price means its story is a sad one. Only time will tell if there is still too much optimism currently reflected in the share price.

Anyone who held for that rewarding ride would probably be keen to talk about it.

View our latest analysis for Probiotec

There is no denying that markets are sometimes efficient, but prices do not always reflect underlying business performance. 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 the five years of share price growth, Probiotec moved from a loss to profitability. Sometimes, the start of profitability is a major inflection point that can signal fast earnings growth to come, which in turn justifies very strong share price gains. Since the company was unprofitable five years ago, but not three years ago, it's worth taking a look at the returns in the last three years, too. Indeed, the Probiotec share price has gained 306% in three years. During the same period, EPS grew by 12% each year. This EPS growth is lower than the 59% average annual increase in the share price over three years. So one can reasonably conclude the market is more enthusiastic about the stock than it was three years ago.

The company's earnings per share (over time) is depicted in the image below (click to see the exact numbers).

ASX:PBP Past and Future Earnings March 26th 2020

We like that insiders have been buying shares in the last twelve months. Even so, future earnings will be far more important to whether current shareholders make money. This free interactive report on Probiotec's earnings, revenue and cash flow is a great place to start, if you want to investigate the stock further.

What About Dividends?

When looking at investment returns, it is important to consider the difference between total shareholder return (TSR) and share price return. 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. It's fair to say that the TSR gives a more complete picture for stocks that pay a dividend. As it happens, Probiotec's TSR for the last 5 years was 1153%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. And there's no prize for guessing that the dividend payments largely explain the divergence!

A Different Perspective

It's nice to see that Probiotec shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 20% over the last year. That's including the dividend. However, the TSR over five years, coming in at 66% per year, is even more impressive. The pessimistic view would be that be that the stock has its best days behind it, but on the other hand the price might simply be moderating while the business itself continues to execute. It's always interesting to track share price performance over the longer term. But to understand Probiotec better, we need to consider many other factors. For instance, we've identified 2 warning signs for Probiotec that you should be aware of.

Probiotec is not the only stock insiders are buying. So take a peek at this free list of growing companies with insider buying.

Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on AU exchanges.

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.

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. Thank you for reading.