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When we invest, we're generally looking for stocks that outperform the market average. And while active stock picking involves risks (and requires diversification) it can also provide excess returns. For example, the First Commonwealth Financial Corporation (NYSE:FCF) share price is up 68% in the last 5 years, clearly besting than the market return of around 45% (ignoring dividends).
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.
Over half a decade, First Commonwealth Financial managed to grow its earnings per share at 19% a year. This EPS growth is higher than the 11% average annual increase in the share price. So it seems the market isn't so enthusiastic about the stock these days.
You can see below how EPS has changed over time (discover the exact values by clicking on the image).
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. Dive deeper into the earnings by checking this interactive graph of First Commonwealth Financial's earnings, revenue and cash flow.
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 incorporates the value of any spin-offs or discounted capital raisings, along with any dividends, based on the assumption that the dividends are reinvested. Arguably, the TSR gives a more comprehensive picture of the return generated by a stock. In the case of First Commonwealth Financial, it has a TSR of 93% for the last 5 years. That exceeds its share price return that we previously mentioned. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.
A Different Perspective
First Commonwealth Financial shareholders are down 10% for the year (even including dividends), but the market itself is up 6.3%. 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. Longer term investors wouldn't be so upset, since they would have made 14%, each year, over five years. If the fundamental data continues to indicate long term sustainable growth, the current sell-off could be an opportunity worth considering. 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.
First Commonwealth Financial 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.