When you buy and hold a stock for the long term, you definitely want it to provide a positive return. Furthermore, you'd generally like to see the share price rise faster than the market Unfortunately for shareholders, while the Farmers & Merchants Bancorp, Inc. (NASDAQ:FMAO) share price is up 69% in the last five years, that's less than the market return. Zooming in, the stock is actually down 18% in the last year.
To quote Buffett, 'Ships will sail around the world but the Flat Earth Society will flourish. There will continue to be wide discrepancies between price and value in the marketplace...' 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 five years of share price growth, Farmers & Merchants Bancorp achieved compound earnings per share (EPS) growth of 10.0% per year. So the EPS growth rate is rather close to the annualized share price gain of 11% per year. That suggests that the market sentiment around the company hasn't changed much over that time. Indeed, it would appear the share price is reacting to the EPS.
The image below shows how EPS has 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. Before buying or selling a stock, we always recommend a close examination of historic growth trends, available here..
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. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. We note that for Farmers & Merchants Bancorp the TSR over the last 5 years was 89%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.
A Different Perspective
Farmers & Merchants Bancorp shareholders are down 15% for the year (even including dividends), but the market itself is up 29%. Even the share prices of good stocks drop sometimes, but we want to see improvements in the fundamental metrics of a business, before getting too interested. Longer term investors wouldn't be so upset, since they would have made 14%, each year, over five years. If the fundamental data continues to indicate long term sustainable growth, the current sell-off could be an opportunity worth considering. It's always interesting to track share price performance over the longer term. But to understand Farmers & Merchants Bancorp better, we need to consider many other factors. Take risks, for example - Farmers & Merchants Bancorp has 1 warning sign we think you should be aware of.
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 US exchanges.
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Farmers & Merchants Bancorp
Farmers & Merchants Bancorp, Inc. operates as the bank holding company for The Farmers & Merchants State Bank that provides commercial banking services to individuals and small businesses in northwest Ohio and northeast Indiana.
Flawless balance sheet with solid track record and pays a dividend.