It's easy to match the overall market return by buying an index fund. When you buy individual stocks, you can make higher profits, but you also face the risk of under-performance. Unfortunately the Old Republic International Corporation (NYSE:ORI) share price slid 33% over twelve months. That falls noticeably short of the market return of around 24%. However, the longer term returns haven't been so bad, with the stock down 20% in the last three years. The silver lining is that the stock is up 1.6% in about a week.
While markets are a powerful pricing mechanism, share prices reflect investor sentiment, not just underlying business performance. 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.
Unfortunately Old Republic International reported an EPS drop of 64% for the last year. This fall in the EPS is significantly worse than the 33% the share price fall. So despite the weak per-share profits, some investors are probably relieved the situation wasn't more difficult.
The company's earnings per share (over time) is depicted in the image below (click to see the exact numbers).
It's good to see that there was some significant insider buying in the last three months. That's 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 Old Republic International's earnings, revenue and cash flow.
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. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. In the case of Old Republic International, it has a TSR of -30% for the last year. 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
Old Republic International shareholders are down 30% for the year (even including dividends), but the market itself is up 24%. 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. 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. 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. Case in point: We've spotted 2 warning signs for Old Republic International you should be aware of.
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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