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If You Had Bought Card Factory (LON:CARD) Stock Three Years Ago, You'd Be Sitting On A 45% Loss, Today

Simply Wall St

This week we saw the Card Factory plc (LON:CARD) share price climb by 15%. But that cannot eclipse the less-than-impressive returns over the last three years. After all, the share price is down 45% in the last three years, significantly under-performing the market.

See our latest analysis for Card Factory

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.

During the three years that the share price fell, Card Factory's earnings per share (EPS) dropped by 8.3% each year. This reduction in EPS is slower than the 18% annual reduction in the share price. So it seems the market was too confident about the business, in the past.

The image below shows how EPS has tracked over time (if you click on the image you can see greater detail).

LSE:CARD Past and Future Earnings, April 22nd 2019

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?

As well as measuring the share price return, investors should also consider the total shareholder return (TSR). 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 Card Factory, it has a TSR of -31% 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

Card Factory shareholders are down 13% for the year (even including dividends), but the broader market is up 5.5%. However, keep in mind that even the best stocks will sometimes underperform the market over a twelve month period. The three-year loss of 11% per year isn't as bad as the last twelve months, suggesting that the company has not been able to convince the market it has solved its problems. Although Warren Buffett famously said he likes to 'buy when there is blood on the streets', he also focusses on high quality stocks with solid prospects. 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.

Card Factory 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 GB 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.