Stock Analysis

VersaBank (TSE:VBNK) investors are up 11% in the past week, but earnings have declined over the last five years

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TSX:VBNK
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Generally speaking the aim of active stock picking is to find companies that provide returns that are superior to the market average. And the truth is, you can make significant gains if you buy good quality businesses at the right price. For example, the VersaBank (TSE:VBNK) share price is up 73% in the last 5 years, clearly besting the market return of around 23% (ignoring dividends).

The past week has proven to be lucrative for VersaBank investors, so let's see if fundamentals drove the company's five-year performance.

Check out the opportunities and risks within the CA Banks industry.

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. By comparing earnings per share (EPS) and share price changes over time, we can get a feel for how investor attitudes to a company have morphed over time.

During five years of share price growth, VersaBank actually saw its EPS drop 1.3% per year.

By glancing at these numbers, we'd posit that the decline in earnings per share is not representative of how the business has changed over the years. Since the change in EPS doesn't seem to correlate with the change in share price, it's worth taking a look at other metrics.

The modest 1.0% dividend yield is unlikely to be propping up the share price. On the other hand, VersaBank's revenue is growing nicely, at a compound rate of 7.9% over the last five years. It's quite possible that management are prioritizing revenue growth over EPS growth at the moment.

The graphic below depicts how earnings and revenue have changed over time (unveil the exact values by clicking on the image).

earnings-and-revenue-growth
TSX:VBNK Earnings and Revenue Growth December 8th 2022

We like that insiders have been buying shares in the last twelve months. Even so, future earnings will be far more important to whether current shareholders make money. If you are thinking of buying or selling VersaBank stock, you should check out this free report showing analyst profit forecasts.

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. We note that for VersaBank the TSR over the last 5 years was 82%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!

A Different Perspective

We regret to report that VersaBank shareholders are down 36% for the year (even including dividends). Unfortunately, that's worse than the broader market decline of 0.2%. Having said that, it's inevitable that some stocks will be oversold in a falling market. The key is to keep your eyes on the fundamental developments. On the bright side, long term shareholders have made money, with a gain of 13% 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. 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. Consider for instance, the ever-present spectre of investment risk. We've identified 1 warning sign with VersaBank , and understanding them should be part of your investment process.

VersaBank is not the only stock that insiders are buying. 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 CA exchanges.

Valuation is complex, but we're helping make it simple.

Find out whether VersaBank is potentially over or undervalued by checking out our comprehensive analysis, which includes fair value estimates, risks and warnings, dividends, insider transactions and financial health.

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