Freeport-McMoRan (NYSE:FCX) investors are up 3.5% in the past week, but earnings have declined over the last five years

Buying shares in the best businesses can build meaningful wealth for you and your family. And highest quality companies can see their share prices grow by huge amounts. To wit, the Freeport-McMoRan Inc. (NYSE:FCX) share price has soared 339% over five years. And this is just one example of the epic gains achieved by some long term investors. On top of that, the share price is up 24% in about a quarter. The company reported its financial results recently; you can catch up on the latest numbers by reading our company report.

Since it's been a strong week for Freeport-McMoRan shareholders, let's have a look at trend of the longer term fundamentals.

View our latest analysis for Freeport-McMoRan

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.

During five years of share price growth, Freeport-McMoRan actually saw its EPS drop 3.0% per year.

So it's hard to argue that the earnings per share are the best metric to judge the company, as it may not be optimized for profits at this point. Since the change in EPS doesn't seem to correlate with the change in share price, it's worth taking a look at other metrics.

We doubt the modest 1.2% dividend yield is attracting many buyers to the stock. On the other hand, Freeport-McMoRan's revenue is growing nicely, at a compound rate of 12% over the last five years. In that case, the company may be sacrificing current earnings per share to drive growth.

The graphic below depicts how earnings and revenue have changed over time (unveil the exact values by clicking on the image).

earnings-and-revenue-growth

We consider it positive that insiders have made significant purchases in the last year. Having said that, most people consider earnings and revenue growth trends to be a more meaningful guide to the business. So we recommend checking out this free report showing consensus forecasts

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. We note that for Freeport-McMoRan the TSR over the last 5 years was 366%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!

A Different Perspective

We're pleased to report that Freeport-McMoRan shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 39% over one year. And that does include the dividend. That's better than the annualised return of 36% over half a decade, implying that the company is doing better recently. In the best case scenario, this may hint at some real business momentum, implying that now could be a great time to delve deeper. 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. Consider risks, for instance. Every company has them, and we've spotted 1 warning sign for Freeport-McMoRan you should know about.

Freeport-McMoRan is not the only stock that insiders are buying. For those who like to find winning investments this free list of growing companies with recent insider purchasing, could be just the ticket.

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.

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.

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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