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These days it's easy to simply buy an index fund, and your returns should (roughly) match the market. But one can do better than that by picking better than average stocks (as part of a diversified portfolio). For example, the Lincoln National Corporation (NYSE:LNC) share price is up 89% in the last year, clearly besting the market return of around 50% (not including dividends). That's a solid performance by our standards! However, the longer term returns haven't been so impressive, with the stock up just 1.9% in the last three years.
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.
During the last year Lincoln National grew its earnings per share (EPS) by 0.8%. The share price gain of 89% certainly outpaced the EPS growth. This indicates that the market is now more optimistic about the stock.
You can see how EPS has changed over time in the image below (click on the chart to see the exact values).
We consider it positive that insiders have made significant purchases in the last year. Having said that, most people consider earnings and revenue growth trends to be a more meaningful guide to the business. It might be well worthwhile taking a look at our free report on Lincoln National'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. Arguably, the TSR gives a more comprehensive picture of the return generated by a stock. In the case of Lincoln National, it has a TSR of 96% for the last year. That exceeds its share price return that we previously mentioned. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!
A Different Perspective
It's good to see that Lincoln National has rewarded shareholders with a total shareholder return of 96% in the last twelve months. And that does include the dividend. That gain is better than the annual TSR over five years, which is 13%. Therefore it seems like sentiment around the company has been positive lately. Given the share price momentum remains strong, it might be worth taking a closer look at the stock, lest you miss an opportunity. It's always interesting to track share price performance over the longer term. But to understand Lincoln National better, we need to consider many other factors. To that end, you should be aware of the 2 warning signs we've spotted with Lincoln National .
If you like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).
Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on US exchanges.
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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