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 But CNO Financial Group, Inc. (NYSE:CNO) has fallen short of that second goal, with a share price rise of 25% over five years, which is below the market return. On a brighter note, more newer shareholders are probably rather content with the 21% share price gain over twelve months.
In his essay The Superinvestors of Graham-and-Doddsville Warren Buffett described how share prices do not always rationally reflect the value of a business. 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, CNO Financial Group achieved compound earnings per share (EPS) growth of 24% per year. The EPS growth is more impressive than the yearly share price gain of 5% over the same period. Therefore, it seems the market has become relatively pessimistic about the company. The reasonably low P/E ratio of 6.57 also suggests market apprehension.
The company's earnings per share (over time) is depicted in the image below (click to see the exact numbers).
It's probably worth noting we've seen significant insider buying in the last quarter, which we consider a positive. On the other hand, we think the revenue and earnings trends are much more meaningful measures of the business. It might be well worthwhile taking a look at our free report on CNO Financial Group's earnings, revenue and cash flow.
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. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. In the case of CNO Financial Group, it has a TSR of 39% for the last 5 years. That exceeds its share price return that we previously mentioned. And there's no prize for guessing that the dividend payments largely explain the divergence!
A Different Perspective
CNO Financial Group's TSR for the year was broadly in line with the market average, at 24%. That gain looks pretty satisfying, and it is even better than the five-year TSR of 7% per year. It is possible that management foresight will bring growth well into the future, even if the share price slows down. I find it very interesting to look at share price over the long term as a proxy for business performance. But to truly gain insight, we need to consider other information, too. Like risks, for instance. Every company has them, and we've spotted 4 warning signs for CNO Financial Group (of which 2 don't sit too well with us!) you should know about.
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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