Investing in Zoetis (NYSE:ZTS) five years ago would have delivered you a 204% gain

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While Zoetis Inc. (NYSE:ZTS) shareholders are probably generally happy, the stock hasn’t had particularly good run recently, with the share price falling 12% in the last quarter. But that scarcely detracts from the really solid long term returns generated by the company over five years. We think most investors would be happy with the 195% return, over that period. To some, the recent pullback wouldn’t be surprising after such a fast rise. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s cheap now.

Now it’s worth having a look at the company’s fundamentals too, because that will help us determine if the long term shareholder return has matched the performance of the underlying business.

View our latest analysis for Zoetis

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. 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, Zoetis achieved compound earnings per share (EPS) growth of 21% per year. This EPS growth is reasonably close to the 24% average annual increase in the share price. This indicates that investor sentiment towards the company has not changed a great deal. Rather, the share price has approximately tracked EPS growth.

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

We know that Zoetis has improved its bottom line lately, but is it going to grow revenue? Check if analysts think Zoetis will grow revenue in the future.

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 is a return calculation that accounts for the value of cash dividends (assuming that any dividend received was reinvested) and the calculated value of any discounted capital raisings and spin-offs. It’s fair to say that the TSR gives a more complete picture for stocks that pay a dividend. We note that for Zoetis the TSR over the last 5 years was 204%, 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 Zoetis has rewarded shareholders with a total shareholder return of 2.3% in the last twelve months. And that does include the dividend. Having said that, the five-year TSR of 25% a year, is even better. 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. While it is well worth considering the different impacts that market conditions can have on the share price, there are other factors that are even more important. For instance, we’ve identified 1 warning sign for Zoetis that 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.