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Did You Miss Sun Life Financial's (TSE:SLF) 40% Share Price Gain?

Simply Wall St

When we invest, we're generally looking for stocks that outperform the market average. Buying under-rated businesses is one path to excess returns. To wit, the Sun Life Financial share price has climbed 40% in five years, easily topping the market return of 13% (ignoring dividends).

Check out our latest analysis for Sun Life Financial

To paraphrase Benjamin Graham: Over the short term the market is a voting machine, but over the long term it's a weighing machine. 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 five years of share price growth, Sun Life Financial achieved compound earnings per share (EPS) growth of 6.8% per year. That makes the EPS growth particularly close to the yearly share price growth of 7.0%. This indicates that investor sentiment towards the company has not changed a great deal. Indeed, it would appear the share price is reacting to the EPS.

The company's earnings per share (over time) is depicted in the image below (click to see the exact numbers).

TSX:SLF Past and Future Earnings, December 24th 2019

We know that Sun Life 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?

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. We note that for Sun Life Financial the TSR over the last 5 years was 69%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.

A Different Perspective

We're pleased to report that Sun Life Financial shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 43% over one year. Of course, that includes the dividend. That gain is better than the annual TSR over five years, which is 11%. Therefore it seems like sentiment around the company has been positive lately. Someone with an optimistic perspective could view the recent improvement in TSR as indicating that the business itself is getting better with time. Before spending more time on Sun Life Financial it might be wise to click here to see if insiders have been buying or selling shares.

We will like Sun Life Financial better if we see some big insider buys. While we wait, check out this free list of growing companies with considerable, recent, insider buying.

Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on CA exchanges.

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.

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. Thank you for reading.