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If You Had Bought Capital One Financial (NYSE:COF) Stock Three Years Ago, You Could Pocket A 21% Gain Today

Simply Wall St

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Buying a low-cost index fund will get you the average market return. But if you invest in individual stocks, some are likely to underperform. For example, the Capital One Financial Corporation (NYSE:COF) share price return of 21% over three years lags the market return in the same period. Unfortunately, the share price has fallen 9.9% over twelve months.

See our latest analysis for Capital One Financial

While markets are a powerful pricing mechanism, share prices reflect investor sentiment, not just 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.

Capital One Financial was able to grow its EPS at 19% per year over three years, sending the share price higher. This EPS growth is higher than the 6.6% average annual increase in the share price. Therefore, it seems the market has moderated its expectations for growth, somewhat. We'd venture the lowish P/E ratio of 7.09 also reflects the negative sentiment around the stock.

The graphic below depicts how EPS has changed over time (unveil the exact values by clicking on the image).

NYSE:COF Past and Future Earnings, April 2nd 2019

We know that Capital One Financial has improved its bottom line lately, but is it going to grow revenue? This free report showing analyst revenue forecasts should help you figure out if the EPS growth can be sustained.

What About Dividends?

When looking at investment returns, it is important to consider the difference between total shareholder return (TSR) and share price return. 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. In the case of Capital One Financial, it has a TSR of 28% for the last 3 years. That exceeds its share price return that we previously mentioned. And there's no prize for guessing that the dividend payments largely explain the divergence!

A Different Perspective

While the broader market gained around 12% in the last year, Capital One Financial shareholders lost 8.3% (even including dividends). However, keep in mind that even the best stocks will sometimes underperform the market over a twelve month period. On the bright side, long term shareholders have made money, with a gain of 4.2% per year over half a decade. It could be that the recent sell-off is an opportunity, so it may be worth checking the fundamental data for signs of a long term growth trend. Most investors take the time to check the data on insider transactions. You can click here to see if insiders have been buying or selling.

Of course Capital One Financial may not be the best stock to buy. So you may wish to see this free collection of growth stocks.

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.