When we invest, we’re generally looking for stocks that outperform the market average. Buying under-rated businesses is one path to excess returns. For example, long term Stewardship Financial Corporation (NASDAQ:SSFN) shareholders have enjoyed a 84% share price rise over the last half decade, well in excess of the market return of around 46% (not including dividends).
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.
Over half a decade, Stewardship Financial managed to grow its earnings per share at 25% a year. The EPS growth is more impressive than the yearly share price gain of 13% over the same period. So one could conclude that the broader market has become more cautious towards the stock. This cautious sentiment is reflected in its (fairly low) P/E ratio of 9.72.
The image below shows how EPS has tracked over time (if you click on the image you can see greater detail).
Before buying or selling a stock, we always recommend a close examination of historic growth trends, available here..
What About Dividends?
It is important to consider the total shareholder return, as well as the share price return, for any given stock. 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. Arguably, the TSR gives a more comprehensive picture of the return generated by a stock. In the case of Stewardship Financial, it has a TSR of 96% for the last 5 years. That exceeds its share price return that we previously mentioned. And there’s no prize for guessing that the dividend payments largely explain the divergence!
A Different Perspective
While the broader market gained around 9.9% in the last year, Stewardship Financial shareholders lost 23% (even including dividends). Even the share prices of good stocks drop sometimes, but we want to see improvements in the fundamental metrics of a business, before getting too interested. On the bright side, long term shareholders have made money, with a gain of 14% per year over half a decade. It could be that the recent sell-off is an opportunity, so it may be worth checking the fundamental data for signs of a long term growth trend. Is Stewardship Financial cheap compared to other companies? These 3 valuation measures might help you decide.
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 US exchanges.
We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.
If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.