Investors Who Bought United Community Banks (NASDAQ:UCBI) Shares Three Years Ago Are Now Up 43%

Vanguard founder Jack Bogle helped spearhead the low-cost index fund, putting average returns within reach of every investor. But you can make better returns by buying undervalued shares. For example, the United Community Banks, Inc. (NASDAQ:UCBI) share price is up 43% in the last three years, slightly above the market return. In contrast, the stock is actually down 21% in the last year, suggesting a lack of positive momentum.

View our latest analysis for United Community Banks

While the efficient markets hypothesis continues to be taught by some, it has been proven that markets are over-reactive dynamic systems, and investors are not always rational. 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.

United Community Banks was able to grow its EPS at 24% per year over three years, sending the share price higher. The average annual share price increase of 13% is actually lower than the EPS growth. So it seems investors have become more cautious about the company, over time.

You can see how EPS has changed over time in the image below (click on the chart to see the exact values).

NasdaqGS:UCBI Past and Future Earnings, March 15th 2019
NasdaqGS:UCBI Past and Future Earnings, March 15th 2019

We consider it positive that insiders have made significant purchases in the last year. Having said that, most people consider earnings and revenue growth trends to be a more meaningful guide to the business. This free interactive report on United Community Banks’s earnings, revenue and cash flow is a great place to start, if you want to investigate the stock further.

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. It’s fair to say that the TSR gives a more complete picture for stocks that pay a dividend. As it happens, United Community Banks’s TSR for the last 3 years was 50%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!

A Different Perspective

While the broader market gained around 3.0% in the last year, United Community Banks shareholders lost 19% (even including dividends). 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 7.3% 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. Investors who like to make money usually check up on insider purchases, such as the price paid, and total amount bought. You can find out about the insider purchases of United Community Banks by clicking this link.

United Community Banks is not the only stock insiders are buying. So take a peek at this free list of growing companies with insider buying.

Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on US exchanges.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. 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. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.