It is a pleasure to report that the Webster Financial Corporation (NYSE:WBS) is up 47% in the last quarter. But that doesn't help the fact that the three year return is less impressive. In fact, the share price is down 29% in the last three years, falling well short of the market return.
To paraphrase Benjamin Graham: Over the short term the market is a voting machine, but over the long term it's a weighing machine. By comparing earnings per share (EPS) and share price changes over time, we can get a feel for how investor attitudes to a company have morphed over time.
During the unfortunate three years of share price decline, Webster Financial actually saw its earnings per share (EPS) improve by 1.5% per year. 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). Alternatively, growth expectations may have been unreasonable in the past.
It looks to us like the market was probably too optimistic around growth three years ago. However, taking a look at other business metrics might shed a bit more light on the share price action.
With revenue flat over three years, it seems unlikely that the share price is reflecting the top line. There doesn't seem to be any clear correlation between the fundamental business metrics and the share price. That could mean that the stock was previously overrated, or it could spell opportunity now.
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 like that insiders have been buying shares in the last twelve months. Even so, future earnings will be far more important to whether current shareholders make money. You can see what analysts are predicting for Webster Financial in this interactive graph of future profit estimates.
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. As it happens, Webster Financial's TSR for the last 3 years was -21%, 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 26% in the last year, Webster Financial shareholders lost 14% (even including dividends). However, keep in mind that even the best stocks will sometimes underperform the market over a twelve month period. Longer term investors wouldn't be so upset, since they would have made 5%, 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 Webster Financial better, we need to consider many other factors. For example, we've discovered 1 warning sign for Webster Financial that you should be aware of before investing here.
Webster Financial 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.
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What are the risks and opportunities for Webster Financial?
Trading at 54.3% below our estimate of its fair value
Earnings are forecast to grow 29.03% per year
Earnings grew by 57.6% over the past year
No risks detected for WBS from our risks checks.
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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Webster Financial Corporation operates as the bank holding company for Webster Bank, National Association that provides a range of banking, investment, and financial services to individuals, families, and businesses in the United States.
Flawless balance sheet established dividend payer.