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Earnings are growing at Univest Financial (NASDAQ:UVSP) but shareholders still don't like its prospects

·3 min read

In order to justify the effort of selecting individual stocks, it's worth striving to beat the returns from a market index fund. But every investor is virtually certain to have both over-performing and under-performing stocks. So we wouldn't blame long term Univest Financial Corporation (NASDAQ:UVSP) shareholders for doubting their decision to hold, with the stock down 16% over a half decade. The last week also saw the share price slip down another 6.8%.

Given the past week has been tough on shareholders, let's investigate the fundamentals and see what we can learn.

See our latest analysis for Univest Financial

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. 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.

While the share price declined over five years, Univest Financial actually managed to increase EPS by an average of 17% per year. Given the share price reaction, one might suspect that EPS is not a good guide to the business performance during the period (perhaps due to a one-off loss or gain). Or possibly, the market was previously very optimistic, so the stock has disappointed, despite improving EPS.

It is unusual to see such modest share price growth in the face of sustained EPS improvements. We can look to other metrics to try to understand the situation better.

In contrast to the share price, revenue has actually increased by 8.8% a year in the five year period. So it seems one might have to take closer look at the fundamentals to understand why the share price languishes. After all, there may be an opportunity.

You can see below how earnings and revenue have changed over time (discover the exact values by clicking on the image).

earnings-and-revenue-growth
earnings-and-revenue-growth

It's probably worth noting that the CEO is paid less than the median at similar sized companies. But while CEO remuneration is always worth checking, the really important question is whether the company can grow earnings going forward. If you are thinking of buying or selling Univest Financial stock, you should check out this free report showing analyst profit forecasts.

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. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. As it happens, Univest Financial's TSR for the last 5 years was -1.9%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.

A Different Perspective

While it's certainly disappointing to see that Univest Financial shares lost 3.6% throughout the year, that wasn't as bad as the market loss of 11%. Given the total loss of 0.4% per year over five years, it seems returns have deteriorated in the last twelve months. While some investors do well specializing in buying companies that are struggling (but nonetheless undervalued), don't forget that Buffett said that 'turnarounds seldom turn'. Before spending more time on Univest Financial it might be wise to click here to see if insiders have been buying or selling shares.

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.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.

This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. 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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