In order to justify the effort of selecting individual stocks, it's worth striving to beat the returns from a market index fund. But the risk of stock picking is that you will likely buy under-performing companies. Unfortunately, that's been the case for longer term Laurentian Bank of Canada (TSE:LB) shareholders, since the share price is down 38% in the last three years, falling well short of the market return of around 25%. And the ride hasn't got any smoother in recent times over the last year, with the price 26% lower in that time.
To paraphrase Benjamin Graham: Over the short term the market is a voting machine, but over the long term it's a weighing machine. 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.
Laurentian Bank of Canada saw its EPS decline at a compound rate of 24% per year, over the last three years. This fall in the EPS is worse than the 15% compound annual share price fall. This suggests that the market retains some optimism around long term earnings stability, despite past EPS declines.
The image below shows how EPS has tracked over time (if you click on the image you can see greater detail).
It's good to see that there was some significant insider buying in the last three months. That's a positive. On the other hand, we think the revenue and earnings trends are much more meaningful measures of the business. It might be well worthwhile taking a look at our free report on Laurentian Bank of Canada's earnings, revenue and cash flow.
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. Arguably, the TSR gives a more comprehensive picture of the return generated by a stock. We note that for Laurentian Bank of Canada the TSR over the last 3 years was -25%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. And there's no prize for guessing that the dividend payments largely explain the divergence!
A Different Perspective
Laurentian Bank of Canada shareholders are down 21% for the year (even including dividends), but the market itself is up 8.1%. However, keep in mind that even the best stocks will sometimes underperform the market over a twelve month period. Unfortunately, last year's performance may indicate unresolved challenges, given that it was worse than the annualised loss of 2% over the last half decade. We realise that Baron Rothschild has said investors should "buy when there is blood on the streets", but we caution that investors should first be sure they are buying a high quality business. I find it very interesting to look at share price over the long term as a proxy for business performance. But to truly gain insight, we need to consider other information, too. Case in point: We've spotted 2 warning signs for Laurentian Bank of Canada you should be aware of.
There are plenty of other companies that have insiders buying up shares. You probably do not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying.
Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on CA exchanges.
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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. 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.
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