Investors in BHP Group (ASX:BHP) have made a strong return of 148% over the past five years

It hasn’t been the best quarter for BHP Group Limited (ASX:BHP) shareholders, since the share price has fallen 24% in that time. Looking further back, the stock has generated good profits over five years. Its return of 56% has certainly bested the market return!

So let’s investigate and see if the longer term performance of the company has been in line with the underlying business’ progress.

Check out our latest analysis for BHP Group

While markets are a powerful pricing mechanism, share prices reflect investor sentiment, not just 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.

Over half a decade, BHP Group managed to grow its earnings per share at 46% a year. The EPS growth is more impressive than the yearly share price gain of 9% over the same period. So one could conclude that the broader market has become more cautious towards the stock. This cautious sentiment is reflected in its (fairly low) P/E ratio of 8.68.

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 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 BHP Group’s earnings, revenue and cash flow is a great place to start, if you want to investigate the stock further.

What About Dividends?

It is important to consider the total shareholder return, as well as the share price return, for any given stock. 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. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. We note that for BHP Group the TSR over the last 5 years was 148%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!

A Different Perspective

While it’s never nice to take a loss, BHP Group shareholders can take comfort that , including dividends,their trailing twelve month loss of 1.0% wasn’t as bad as the market loss of around 4.0%. Longer term investors wouldn’t be so upset, since they would have made 20%, each year, over five years. It could be that the business is just facing some short term problems, but shareholders should keep a close eye on the fundamentals. 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. To that end, you should learn about the 3 warning signs we’ve spotted with BHP Group (including 1 which shouldn’t be ignored) .

BHP Group 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.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.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.

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By Matt Earle

Matthew Earle is the Founder of MiningFeeds. In 2005, Matt founded MiningNerds.com to provide data and information to the mining investment community. This site was merged with Highgrade Review to form MiningFeeds. Matt has a B.Sc. degree with a minor in geology from the University of Toronto.

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