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Did First Financial's (NASDAQ:THFF) Share Price Deserve to Gain 31%?

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Simply Wall St
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If you buy and hold a stock for many years, you'd hope to be making a profit. Furthermore, you'd generally like to see the share price rise faster than the market Unfortunately for shareholders, while the First Financial Corporation (NASDAQ:THFF) share price is up 31% in the last five years, that's less than the market return. Zooming in, the stock is actually down 19% in the last year.

View our latest analysis for First Financial

While markets are a powerful pricing mechanism, share prices reflect investor sentiment, not just underlying business performance. 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.

Over half a decade, First Financial managed to grow its earnings per share at 7.5% a year. The EPS growth is more impressive than the yearly share price gain of 5.6% over the same period. So it seems the market isn't so enthusiastic about the stock these days. The reasonably low P/E ratio of 11.48 also suggests market apprehension.

You can see how EPS has changed over time in the image below (click on the chart to see the exact values).

NasdaqGS:THFF Past and Future Earnings, October 9th 2019
NasdaqGS:THFF Past and Future Earnings, October 9th 2019

We know that First Financial has improved its bottom line lately, but is it going to grow revenue? You could check out this free report showing analyst revenue forecasts.

What About Dividends?

It is important to consider the total shareholder return, as well as the share price return, for any given stock. 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. As it happens, First Financial's TSR for the last 5 years was 53%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. And there's no prize for guessing that the dividend payments largely explain the divergence!

A Different Perspective

First Financial shareholders are down 16% for the year (even including dividends) , but the market itself is up 5.2%. Even the share prices of good stocks drop sometimes, but we want to see improvements in the fundamental metrics of a business, before getting too interested. Longer term investors wouldn't be so upset, since they would have made 8.9%, 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. Most investors take the time to check the data on insider transactions. You can click here to see if insiders have been buying or selling.

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 editorial-team@simplywallst.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.