Stocks for the Long Run: Pfizer vs. the S&P 500

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, Pfizer (NYS: PFE) .


Pfizer shares have easily outperformed the S&P 500 over the last quarter-century (including a temporary surge during the 1990s bubble):

Source: S&P Capital IQ.

Since 1987, shares have returned an average of 12.1% 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 Pfizer, it'd be worth $38,300.                               

Dividends accounted for a lot of those gains. Compounded since 1987, dividends have made up about half of Pfizer's total returns. For the S&P, dividends account for 39% of total returns.

Now have a look at how Pfizer earnings compare with S&P 500 earnings:

Source: S&P Capital IQ.

Pretty good outperformance. Since 1995, earnings per share have increased by an average of 8.9% per year, compared with 6% annual growth for the broader index.

What's that meant for valuations? Pfizer has traded for an average of 30 times earnings since 1987 -- above the 24 times earnings average of the S&P 500. It's far different today, however. Pfizer currently trades at a more reasonable 10 times next year's earnings.

Through it all, shares have been strong performers over the last quarter-century.  

Of course, the important question is whether that will continue. That's where you come in. Our CAPS community currently ranks Pfizer with a four-star rating (out of five). Do you disagree? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below, or add Pfizer to My Watchlist.

The article Stocks for the Long Run: Pfizer vs. the S&P 500 originally appeared on Fool.com.

Fool contributorMorgan Houseldoesn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article. Follow him on Twitter @TMFHousel.The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

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