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Did SmartFinancial's (NASDAQ:SMBK) Share Price Deserve to Gain 24%?

Simply Wall St

Low-cost index funds make it easy to achieve average market returns. But across the board there are plenty of stocks that underperform the market. For example, the SmartFinancial, Inc. (NASDAQ:SMBK) share price return of 24% over three years lags the market return in the same period. Disappointingly, the share price is down 13% in the last year.

See our latest analysis for SmartFinancial

There is no denying that markets are sometimes efficient, but prices do not always reflect underlying business performance. 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 three years of share price growth, SmartFinancial achieved compound earnings per share growth of 47% per year. The average annual share price increase of 7.5% is actually lower than the EPS growth. Therefore, it seems the market has moderated its expectations for growth, somewhat. We'd venture the lowish P/E ratio of 11.20 also reflects the negative sentiment around the stock.

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

NasdaqCM:SMBK Past and Future Earnings, October 17th 2019

We like that insiders have been buying shares in the last twelve months. Having said that, most people consider earnings and revenue growth trends to be a more meaningful guide to the business. Before buying or selling a stock, we always recommend a close examination of historic growth trends, available here..

A Different Perspective

The last twelve months weren't great for SmartFinancial shares, which cost holders 13%, while the market was up about 7.9%. However, keep in mind that even the best stocks will sometimes underperform the market over a twelve month period. Investors are up over three years, booking 7.5% per year, much better than the more recent returns. Sometimes when a good quality long term winner has a weak period, it's turns out to be an opportunity, but you really need to be sure that the quality is there. It is all well and good that insiders have been buying shares, but we suggest you check here to see what price insiders were buying at.

SmartFinancial 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 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.