When you buy and hold a stock for the long term, you definitely want it to provide a positive return. But more than that, you probably want to see it rise more than the market average. But Westamerica Bancorporation (NASDAQ:WABC) has fallen short of that second goal, with a share price rise of 35% over five years, which is below the market return. On a brighter note, more newer shareholders are probably rather content with the 24% share price gain over twelve months.
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, Westamerica Bancorporation achieved compound earnings per share (EPS) growth of 5.4% per year. This EPS growth is reasonably close to the 6% average annual increase in the share price. This indicates that investor sentiment towards the company has not changed a great deal. Rather, the share price has approximately tracked EPS growth.
The company's earnings per share (over time) is depicted in the image below (click to see the exact numbers).
We're pleased to report that the CEO is remunerated more modestly than most CEOs at similarly capitalized companies. But while CEO remuneration is always worth checking, the really important question is whether the company can grow earnings going forward. This free interactive report on Westamerica Bancorporation'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 incorporates the value of any spin-offs or discounted capital raisings, along with any dividends, based on the assumption that the dividends are reinvested. It's fair to say that the TSR gives a more complete picture for stocks that pay a dividend. In the case of Westamerica Bancorporation, it has a TSR of 55% for the last 5 years. That exceeds its share price return that we previously mentioned. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!
A Different Perspective
Westamerica Bancorporation shareholders gained a total return of 27% during the year. But that return falls short of the market. The silver lining is that the gain was actually better than the average annual return of 9% per year over five year. It is possible that returns will improve along with the business fundamentals. It's always interesting to track share price performance over the longer term. But to understand Westamerica Bancorporation better, we need to consider many other factors. Take risks, for example - Westamerica Bancorporation has 1 warning sign we think you should be aware of.
But note: Westamerica Bancorporation may not be the best stock to buy. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with past earnings growth (and further growth forecast).
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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