When we invest, we're generally looking for stocks that outperform the market average. And the truth is, you can make significant gains if you buy good quality businesses at the right price. For example, long term Community Bank System, Inc. (NYSE:CBU) shareholders have enjoyed a 85% share price rise over the last half decade, well in excess of the market return of around 45% (not including dividends). On the other hand, the more recent gains haven't been so impressive, with shareholders gaining just 5.2% , including dividends .
While the efficient markets hypothesis continues to be taught by some, it has been proven that markets are over-reactive dynamic systems, and investors are not always rational. One way to examine how market sentiment has changed over time is to look at the interaction between a company's share price and its earnings per share (EPS).
During five years of share price growth, Community Bank System achieved compound earnings per share (EPS) growth of 10% per year. This EPS growth is slower than the share price growth of 13% per year, over the same period. So it's fair to assume the market has a higher opinion of the business than it did five years ago. That's not necessarily surprising considering the five-year track record of earnings 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. Dive deeper into the earnings by checking this interactive graph of Community Bank System'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). Whereas the share price return only reflects the change in the share price, the TSR includes the value of dividends (assuming they were reinvested) and the benefit of any discounted capital raising or spin-off. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. We note that for Community Bank System the TSR over the last 5 years was 112%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!
A Different Perspective
It's good to see that Community Bank System has rewarded shareholders with a total shareholder return of 5.2% in the last twelve months. That's including the dividend. However, that falls short of the 16% TSR per annum it has made for shareholders, each year, over five years. The pessimistic view would be that be that the stock has its best days behind it, but on the other hand the price might simply be moderating while the business itself continues to execute. Before spending more time on Community Bank System it might be wise to click here to see if insiders have been buying or selling shares.
If you would prefer to check out another company -- one with potentially superior financials -- then do not miss this free list of companies that have proven they can grow earnings.
Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on US exchanges.
We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.
If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at email@example.com. 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. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.