Thanks in no small measure to Vanguard founder Jack Bogle, it’s easy buy a low cost index fund, which should provide the average market return. But you can make superior returns by picking better-than average stocks. Notably, the EXFO Inc. (TSE:EXF) share price has gained 19% in three years, which is better than the average market return. The bad news is that the share price seems to lack positive momentum recently, since it has dropped 14% in the last year.
In his essay The Superinvestors of Graham-and-Doddsville Warren Buffett described how share prices do not always rationally reflect the value of a business. 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.
Over the last three years, EXFO failed to grow earnings per share, which fell 115% (annualized). Thus, it seems unlikely that the market is focussed on EPS growth at the moment. Since the change in EPS doesn’t seem to correlate with the change in share price, it’s worth taking a look at other metrics.
It may well be that EXFO revenue growth rate of 6.9% over three years has convinced shareholders to believe in a brighter future. In that case, the company may be sacrificing current earnings per share to drive growth, and maybe shareholder’s faith in better days ahead will be rewarded.
The graphic below shows how revenue and earnings have changed as management guided the business forward. If you want to see cashflow, you can click on the chart.
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. So it makes a lot of sense to check out what analysts think EXFO will earn in the future (free profit forecasts)
A Different Perspective
While the broader market gained around 3.5% in the last year, EXFO shareholders lost 14%. Even the share prices of good stocks drop sometimes, but we want to see improvements in the fundamental metrics of a business, before getting too interested. Regrettably, last year’s performance caps off a bad run, with the shareholders facing a total loss of 1.8% per year over five years. Generally speaking long term share price weakness can be a bad sign, though contrarian investors might want to research the stock in hope of a turnaround. If you want to research this stock further, the data on insider buying is an obvious place to start. You can click here to see who has been buying shares – and the price they paid.
EXFO 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 CA exchanges.
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