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When you buy and hold a stock for the long term, you definitely want it to provide a positive return. But more than that, you probably want to see it rise more than the market average. Unfortunately for shareholders, while the Main Street Capital Corporation (NYSE:MAIN) share price is up 24% in the last five years, that's less than the market return. Unfortunately the share price is down 0.7% in the last year.
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. 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.
During five years of share price growth, Main Street Capital actually saw its EPS drop 27% per year.
Since the EPS are down strongly, it seems highly unlikely market participants are looking at EPS to value the company. Given that EPS is down, but the share price is up, it seems clear the market is focussed on other aspects of the business, at the moment.
We note that the dividend has not increased, so that doesn't seem to explain the increase, either. It could be that the revenue growth of 7.5% per year is viewed as evidence that Main Street Capital is growing. In that case, the company may be sacrificing current earnings per share to drive growth.
The image below shows how earnings and revenue have tracked over time (if you click on the image you can see greater detail).
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. So it makes a lot of sense to check out what analysts think Main Street Capital will earn in the future (free profit forecasts).
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. We note that for Main Street Capital the TSR over the last 5 years was 80%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!
A Different Perspective
Main Street Capital shareholders are up 7.8% for the year (even including dividends). Unfortunately this falls short of the market return. It's probably a good sign that the company has an even better long term track record, having provided shareholders with an annual TSR of 13% over five years. It's quite possible the business continues to execute with prowess, even as the share price gains are slowing. It's always interesting to track share price performance over the longer term. But to understand Main Street Capital better, we need to consider many other factors. Even so, be aware that Main Street Capital is showing 5 warning signs in our investment analysis , and 2 of those are potentially serious...
Main Street Capital is not the only stock insiders are buying. So take a peek at this free list of growing companies with insider buying.
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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