The worst result, after buying shares in a company (assuming no leverage), would be if you lose all the money you put in. But on the bright side, if you buy shares in a high quality company at the right price, you can gain well over 100%. For example, the Ciena Corporation (NYSE:CIEN) share price has soared 104% in the last half decade. Most would be very happy with that. Better yet, the share price has risen 14% in the last week. But this could be related to the buoyant market which is up about 12% in a week.
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. 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 the last half decade, Ciena became profitable. 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. Given that the company made a profit three years ago, but not five years ago, it is worth looking at the share price returns over the last three years, too. We can see that the Ciena share price is up 71% in the last three years. Meanwhile, EPS is up 42% per year. This EPS growth is higher than the 19% average annual increase in the share price over the same three years. So you might conclude the market is a little more cautious about the stock, these days.
The image below shows how EPS has tracked over time (if you click on the image you can see greater detail).
It is of course excellent to see how Ciena has grown profits over the years, but the future is more important for shareholders. You can see how its balance sheet has strengthened (or weakened) over time in this free interactive graphic.
A Different Perspective
We're pleased to report that Ciena shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 4.2% over one year. However, the TSR over five years, coming in at 15% 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 Ciena better, we need to consider many other factors. Consider for instance, the ever-present spectre of investment risk. We've identified 1 warning sign with Ciena , and understanding them should be part of your investment process.
We will like Ciena 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.
If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at email@example.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.
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