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Shareholders Of W. P. Carey (NYSE:WPC) Must Be Happy With Their 42% Return

Buying a low-cost index fund will get you the average market return. But across the board there are plenty of stocks that underperform the market. That's what has happened with the W. P. Carey Inc. (NYSE:WPC) share price. It's up 19% over three years, but that is below the market return. Zooming in, the stock is up a respectable 18% in the last year.

To paraphrase Benjamin Graham: Over the short term the market is a voting machine, but over the long term it's a weighing machine. One way to examine how market sentiment has changed over time is to look at the interaction between a company's share price and its earnings per share (EPS).

Over the last three years, W. P. Carey failed to grow earnings per share, which fell 1.5% (annualized).

Based on these numbers, we think that the decline in earnings per share may not be a good representation of how the business has changed over the years. So other metrics may hold the key to understanding what is influencing investors.

Interestingly, the dividend has increased over time; so that may have given the share price a boost. It could be that the company is reaching maturity and dividend investors are buying for the yield. The revenue growth of about 14% per year might also encourage buyers.

You can see below how earnings and revenue have changed over time (discover the exact values by clicking on the image).

earnings-and-revenue-growthNYSE:WPC Earnings and Revenue Growth July 16th 2021

We know that W. P. Carey has improved its bottom line lately, but what does the future have in store? This free report showing analyst forecasts should help you form a view on W. P. Carey

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. Arguably, the TSR gives a more comprehensive picture of the return generated by a stock. In the case of W. P. Carey, it has a TSR of 42% for the last 3 years. That exceeds its share price return that we previously mentioned. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!

A Different Perspective

W. P. Carey shareholders are up 25% for the year (even including dividends). But that return falls short of the market. On the bright side, that's still a gain, and it's actually better than the average return of 9% over half a decade This suggests the company might be improving over time. 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. Case in point: We've spotted 2 warning signs for W. P. Carey you should be aware of, and 1 of them is a bit concerning.

If you would prefer to check out another company -- one with potentially superior financials -- then do not miss this free list of companies that have proven they can grow earnings.

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

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. 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.

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

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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