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. Unfortunately for shareholders, while the Washington Federal, Inc. (NASDAQ:WAFD) share price is up 39% in the last five years, that's less than the market return. However, more recent buyers should be happy with the increase of 20% over the last year.
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.
During five years of share price growth, Washington Federal achieved compound earnings per share (EPS) growth of 2.7% per year. This EPS growth is lower than the 7% average annual increase in the share price. This suggests that market participants hold the company in higher regard, these days. And that's hardly shocking given the track record of growth.
The graphic below depicts how EPS has changed over time (unveil the exact values by clicking on the image).
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 Washington Federal's earnings, revenue and cash flow is a great place to start, if you want to investigate the stock further.
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 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 Washington Federal, it has a TSR of 59% for the last 5 years. That exceeds its share price return that we previously mentioned. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.
A Different Perspective
Washington Federal shareholders gained a total return of 25% during the year. Unfortunately this falls short of the market return. On the bright side, that's still a gain, and it's actually better than the average return of 10% over half a decade It is possible that returns will improve along with the business fundamentals. If you want to research this stock further, the data on insider buying is an obvious place to start. You can click here to see who has been buying shares - and the price they paid.
There are plenty of other companies that have insiders buying up shares. You probably do not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying.
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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