Lazard (NYSE:LAZ) delivers shareholders decent 35% return over 1 year, surging 4.3% in the last week alone

Lazard Ltd Class A +1.03%

Lazard Ltd Class A

LAZ

38.27

+1.03%

It's always best to build a diverse portfolio of shares, since any stock business could lag the broader market. Of course, in an ideal world, all your stocks would beat the market. Lazard, Inc. (NYSE:LAZ) has done well over the last year, with the stock price up 26% beating the market return of 26% (not including dividends). Unfortunately the longer term returns are not so good, with the stock falling 6.6% in the last three years.

After a strong gain in the past week, it's worth seeing if longer term returns have been driven by improving fundamentals.

View our latest analysis for Lazard

To quote Buffett, 'Ships will sail around the world but the Flat Earth Society will flourish. There will continue to be wide discrepancies between price and value in the marketplace...' One flawed but reasonable way to assess how sentiment around a company has changed is to compare the earnings per share (EPS) with the share price.

During the last year Lazard saw its earnings per share (EPS) drop below zero. While some may see this as temporary, we're a skeptical bunch, and so we're a little surprised to see the share price go up. It may be that the company has done well on other metrics.

Absent any improvement, we don't think a thirst for dividends is pushing up the Lazard's share price. Revenue actually dropped 9.1% over last year. It's fair to say we're a little surprised to see the share price up, and that makes us cautious.

The image below shows how earnings and revenue have tracked over time (if you click on the image you can see greater detail).

earnings-and-revenue-growth
NYSE:LAZ Earnings and Revenue Growth March 30th 2024

Balance sheet strength is crucial. It might be well worthwhile taking a look at our free report on how its financial position has changed over time.

What About Dividends?

As well as measuring the share price return, investors should also consider the total shareholder return (TSR). 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 Lazard the TSR over the last 1 year was 35%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!

A Different Perspective

It's good to see that Lazard has rewarded shareholders with a total shareholder return of 35% in the last twelve months. Of course, that includes the dividend. That's better than the annualised return of 7% over half a decade, implying that the company is doing better recently. Given the share price momentum remains strong, it might be worth taking a closer look at the stock, lest you miss an opportunity. 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 for instance, the ever-present spectre of investment risk. We've identified 2 warning signs with Lazard , and understanding them should be part of your investment process.

We will like Lazard better if we see some big insider buys. While we wait, check out this free list of growing companies with considerable, recent, insider buying.

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

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