First Community Corporation (NASDAQ:FCCO) shareholders should be happy to see the share price up 26% in the last quarter. But that cannot eclipse the less-than-impressive returns over the last three years. Truth be told the share price declined 27% in three years and that return, Dear Reader, falls short of what you could have got from passive investing with an index fund.
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.
Although the share price is down over three years, First Community actually managed to grow EPS by 5.8% per year in that time. Given the share price reaction, one might suspect that EPS is not a good guide to the business performance during the period (perhaps due to a one-off loss or gain). Or else the company was over-hyped in the past, and so its growth has disappointed.
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.
We note that, in three years, revenue has actually grown at a 8.2% annual rate, so that doesn't seem to be a reason to sell shares. It's probably worth investigating First Community further; while we may be missing something on this analysis, there might also be an opportunity.
You can see how earnings and revenue have changed over time in the image below (click on the chart to see the exact values).
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. You can see what analysts are predicting for First Community in this interactive graph of future profit estimates.
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 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. We note that for First Community the TSR over the last 3 years was -22%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!
A Different Perspective
First Community shareholders are down 14% for the year (even including dividends), but the market itself is up 21%. However, keep in mind that even the best stocks will sometimes underperform the market over a twelve month period. On the bright side, long term shareholders have made money, with a gain of 7% per year over half a decade. If the fundamental data continues to indicate long term sustainable growth, the current sell-off could be an opportunity worth considering. 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. To that end, you should learn about the 2 warning signs we've spotted with First Community (including 1 which is is potentially serious) .
First Community 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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