Fairfax Financial Holdings' (TSE:FFH) 1,861% YoY earnings expansion surpassed the shareholder returns over the past year

By
Simply Wall St
Published
April 19, 2022
TSX:FFH
Source: Shutterstock

Passive investing in index funds can generate returns that roughly match the overall market. But you can significantly boost your returns by picking above-average stocks. For example, the Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited (TSE:FFH) share price is up 24% in the last 1 year, clearly besting the market return of around 15% (not including dividends). That's a solid performance by our standards! However, the stock hasn't done so well in the longer term, with the stock only up 14% in three years.

Since it's been a strong week for Fairfax Financial Holdings shareholders, let's have a look at trend of the longer term fundamentals.

View our latest analysis for Fairfax Financial Holdings

There is no denying that markets are sometimes efficient, but prices do not always reflect underlying business performance. One flawed but reasonable way to assess how sentiment around a company has changed is to compare the earnings per share (EPS) with the share price.

During the last year Fairfax Financial Holdings saw its earnings per share (EPS) increase strongly. While that particular rate of growth is unlikely to be sustained for long, it is still remarkable. So we're unsurprised to see the share price gaining ground. To us, inflection points like this are the best time to take a close look at a stock.

The image below shows how EPS has tracked over time (if you click on the image you can see greater detail).

earnings-per-share-growth
TSX:FFH Earnings Per Share Growth April 19th 2022

We consider it positive that insiders have made significant purchases in the last year. Even so, future earnings will be far more important to whether current shareholders make money. It might be well worthwhile taking a look at our free report on Fairfax Financial Holdings' 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 is a return calculation that accounts for the value of cash dividends (assuming that any dividend received was reinvested) and the calculated value of any discounted capital raisings and spin-offs. It's fair to say that the TSR gives a more complete picture for stocks that pay a dividend. In the case of Fairfax Financial Holdings, it has a TSR of 26% for the last 1 year. 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

It's good to see that Fairfax Financial Holdings has rewarded shareholders with a total shareholder return of 26% in the last twelve months. Of course, that includes the dividend. That gain is better than the annual TSR over five years, which is 5%. Therefore it seems like sentiment around the company has been positive lately. Someone with an optimistic perspective could view the recent improvement in TSR as indicating that the business itself is getting better with time. It's always interesting to track share price performance over the longer term. But to understand Fairfax Financial Holdings better, we need to consider many other factors. Consider for instance, the ever-present spectre of investment risk. We've identified 2 warning signs with Fairfax Financial Holdings (at least 1 which is a bit concerning) , and understanding them should be part of your investment process.

If you like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).

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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