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If you had bought Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) five years ago, your investment would have increased by 811 percent


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Tesla, Inc. (NASDAQ:TSLA) shareholders might be concerned after seeing the share price drop 21% in the last quarter. But that doesn't change the fact that the returns over the last half decade have been spectacular. To be precise, the stock price is 811% higher than it was five years ago, a wonderful performance by any measure. Arguably, the recent fall is to be expected after such a strong rise. But the real question is whether the business fundamentals can improve over the long term. It really delights us to see such great share price performance for investors.

So let's assess the underlying fundamentals over the last 5 years and see if they've moved in lock-step with shareholder returns.

View our latest analysis for Tesla

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 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.

During the last half decade, Tesla 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. Since the company was unprofitable five years ago, but not three years ago, it's worth taking a look at the returns in the last three years, too. Indeed, the Tesla share price has gained 55% in three years. Meanwhile, EPS is up 161% per year. This EPS growth is higher than the 16% average annual increase in the share price over the same three years. Therefore, it seems the market has moderated its expectations for growth, somewhat. Having said that, the market is still optimistic, given the P/E ratio of 61.07.

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

We know that Tesla has improved its bottom line over the last three years, but what does the future have in store? It might be well worthwhile taking a look at our free report on how its financial position has changed over time.

A Different Perspective

VIDEO: Two Friends Buy Tesla Stock - Watch What Happens
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While the broader market gained around 6.1% in the last year, Tesla shareholders lost 8.9%. However, keep in mind that even the best stocks will sometimes underperform the market over a twelve month period. Longer term investors wouldn't be so upset, since they would have made 56%, each year, over five years. If the fundamental data continues to indicate long term sustainable growth, the current sell-off could be an opportunity worth considering. It's always interesting to track share price performance over the longer term. But to understand Tesla 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 Tesla , and understanding them should be part of your investment process.

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 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.

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