Many investors define successful investing as beating the market average over the long term. But in any portfolio, there are likely to be some stocks that fall short of that benchmark. Unfortunately, that's been the case for longer term AZZ Inc. (NYSE:AZZ) shareholders, since the share price is down 16% in the last three years, falling well short of the market return of around 47%. On the other hand, we note it's up 8.5% in about a month.
To quote Buffett, 'Ships will sail around the world but the Flat Earth Society will flourish. There will continue to be wide discrepancies between price and value in the marketplace...' 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 the three years that the share price fell, AZZ's earnings per share (EPS) dropped by 5.4% each year. This fall in EPS isn't far from the rate of share price decline, which was 5.8% per year. That suggests that the market sentiment around the company hasn't changed much over that time, despite the disappointment. It seems like the share price is reflecting the declining earnings per share.
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. Even so, future earnings will be far more important to whether current shareholders make money. It might be well worthwhile taking a look at our free report on AZZ'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. 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. It's fair to say that the TSR gives a more complete picture for stocks that pay a dividend. As it happens, AZZ's TSR for the last 3 years was -13%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!
A Different Perspective
AZZ provided a TSR of 4.9% over the last twelve months. But that was short of the market average. On the bright side, that's still a gain, and it's actually better than the average return of 2.3% over half a decade It is possible that returns will improve along with the business fundamentals. Investors who like to make money usually check up on insider purchases, such as the price paid, and total amount bought. You can find out about the insider purchases of AZZ by clicking this link.
AZZ is not the only stock that insiders are buying. For those who like to find winning investments this free list of growing companies with recent insider purchasing, could be just the ticket.
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.