If you want to compound wealth in the stock market, you can do so by buying an index fund. But if you pick the right individual stocks, you could make more than that. To wit, the Cathay General Bancorp (NASDAQ:CATY) share price is 66% higher than it was a year ago, much better than the market return of around 45% (not including dividends) in the same period. If it can keep that out-performance up over the long term, investors will do very well! In contrast, the longer term returns are negative, since the share price is 3.5% lower than it was three years ago.
There is no denying that markets are sometimes efficient, but prices do not always reflect underlying business performance. 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 the last twelve months, Cathay General Bancorp actually shrank its EPS by 1.2%.
The mild decline in EPS may be a result of the fact that the company is more focused on other aspects of the business, right now. 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.
Revenue was pretty stable on last year, so deeper research might be needed to explain the share price rise.
The image below shows how earnings and revenue have tracked over time (if you click on the image you can see greater detail).
We like that insiders have been buying shares in the last twelve months. Having said that, most people consider earnings and revenue growth trends to be a more meaningful guide to the business. This free report showing analyst forecasts should help you form a view on Cathay General Bancorp
What About Dividends?
When looking at investment returns, it is important to consider the difference between total shareholder return (TSR) and share price return. 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. Arguably, the TSR gives a more comprehensive picture of the return generated by a stock. As it happens, Cathay General Bancorp's TSR for the last year was 73%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!
A Different Perspective
It's nice to see that Cathay General Bancorp shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 73% over the last year. That's including the dividend. That gain is better than the annual TSR over five years, which is 9%. 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 is all well and good that insiders have been buying shares, but we suggest you check here to see what price insiders were buying at.
Cathay General Bancorp 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 US 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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