Investing isn't easy. Even Warren Buffett counsels that most investors should invest in a low-cost index like the S&P 500. That way, "you'll be buying into a wonderful industry, which in effect is all of American industry," he says.
But there are, of course, companies whose long-term fortunes differ substantially from the index. In this series, we look at how individual stocks have performed against the broad S&P 500.
Step on up, St. Jude Medical (NYSE: STJ ) .
St. Jude Medical shares have easily outperformed the S&P 500 over the past quarter-century, with most of the outperformance occurring in the past 15 years:
Since 1987, shares have returned an average of 18.1% a year, compared with 9.7% a year for the S&P (both include dividends). That difference adds up fast. One thousand dollars invested in the S&P in 1987 would be worth $19,200 today. In St. Jude Medical, it'd be worth $203,600.
Dividends accounted for a lot of those gains. Compounded since 1987, dividends have made up about 10% of St. Jude Medical's total returns. For the S&P, dividends account for 39% of total returns.
Now have a look at how St. Jude Medical earnings compare with S&P 500 earnings:
Big outperformance here, too. Since 1995, St. Jude Medical earnings per share have increased by an average of 14.1% a year, compared with 6% a year for the broader index.
What's that meant for valuations? St. Jude Medical has traded for an average of 28 times earnings since 1987 -- a bit above the 24 times earnings of the broader S&P 500.
Through it all, shares have been strong performers over the past quarter-century.
Of course, the important question is whether that will continue. That's where you come in. Our CAPS community currently ranks St. Jude Medical with a five-star rating (out of five). Care to disagree? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below, or add St. Jude Medical to My Watchlist.