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Mastercard (NYSE:MA) shareholders have earned a 14% CAGR over the last five years

When we invest, we're generally looking for stocks that outperform the market average. And while active stock picking involves risks (and requires diversification) it can also provide excess returns. For example, the Mastercard Incorporated (NYSE:MA) share price is up 84% in the last 5 years, clearly besting the market return of around 62% (ignoring dividends). However, more recent returns haven't been as impressive as that, with the stock returning just 22% in the last year , including dividends .

Let's take a look at the underlying fundamentals over the longer term, and see if they've been consistent with shareholders returns.

Check out our latest analysis for Mastercard

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. 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.

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During five years of share price growth, Mastercard achieved compound earnings per share (EPS) growth of 16% per year. This EPS growth is higher than the 13% average annual increase in the share price. So one could conclude that the broader market has become more cautious towards the stock.

You can see how EPS has changed over time in the image below (click on the chart to see the exact values).

earnings-per-share-growth
earnings-per-share-growth

We like that insiders have been buying shares in the last twelve months. Having said that, most people consider earnings and revenue growth trends to be a more meaningful guide to the business. This free interactive report on Mastercard'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. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. As it happens, Mastercard's TSR for the last 5 years was 89%, 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

Mastercard provided a TSR of 22% over the year (including dividends). That's fairly close to the broader market return. Most would be happy with a gain, and it helps that the year's return is actually better than the average return over five years, which was 14%. Even if the share price growth slows down from here, there's a good chance that this is business worth watching in the long term. 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. Take risks, for example - Mastercard has 1 warning sign we think you should be aware of.

There are plenty of other companies that have insiders buying up shares. You probably do not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying.

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