These days it's easy to simply buy an index fund, and your returns should (roughly) match the market. But you can do a lot better than that by buying good quality businesses for attractive prices. For example, the Fulton Financial Corporation (NASDAQ:FULT) share price is up 45% in the last five years, slightly above the market return. Zooming in, the stock is up a respectable 6.7% in the last year.
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.
Over half a decade, Fulton Financial managed to grow its earnings per share at 10% a year. The EPS growth is more impressive than the yearly share price gain of 7.7% over the same period. Therefore, it seems the market has become relatively pessimistic about the company.
The image below shows how EPS has 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. Even so, future earnings will be far more important to whether current shareholders make money. Before buying or selling a stock, we always recommend a close examination of historic growth trends, available here..
What About Dividends?
It is important to consider the total shareholder return, as well as the share price return, for any given stock. The TSR is a return calculation that accounts for the value of cash dividends (assuming that any dividend received was reinvested) and the calculated value of any discounted capital raisings and spin-offs. It's fair to say that the TSR gives a more complete picture for stocks that pay a dividend. We note that for Fulton Financial the TSR over the last 5 years was 68%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. And there's no prize for guessing that the dividend payments largely explain the divergence!
A Different Perspective
Fulton Financial shareholders gained a total return of 10% during the year. Unfortunately this falls short of the market return. On the bright side, the longer term returns (running at about 11% a year, over half a decade) look better. It's quite possible the business continues to execute with prowess, even as the share price gains are slowing. Investors who like to make money usually check up on insider purchases, such as the price paid, and total amount bought. You can find out about the insider purchases of Fulton Financial by clicking this link.
Fulton Financial 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 email@example.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.