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If You Had Bought CNA Financial (NYSE:CNA) Shares Three Years Ago You'd Have Made 35%

Simply Wall St

Low-cost index funds make it easy to achieve average market returns. But if you invest in individual stocks, some are likely to underperform. That's what has happened with the CNA Financial Corporation (NYSE:CNA) share price. It's up 35% over three years, but that is below the market return. In the last year the stock has gained 8.9%.

View our latest analysis for CNA Financial

To paraphrase Benjamin Graham: Over the short term the market is a voting machine, but over the long term it's a weighing machine. One way to examine how market sentiment has changed over time is to look at the interaction between a company's share price and its earnings per share (EPS).

CNA Financial was able to grow its EPS at 31% per year over three years, sending the share price higher. The average annual share price increase of 10% is actually lower than the EPS growth. Therefore, it seems the market has moderated its expectations for growth, somewhat.

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

NYSE:CNA Past and Future Earnings, October 22nd 2019

We know that CNA Financial has improved its bottom line over the last three years, but what does the future have in store? This free interactive report on CNA Financial's balance sheet strength is a great place to start, if you want to investigate the stock further.

What About Dividends?

As well as measuring the share price return, investors should also consider the total shareholder return (TSR). 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 CNA Financial, it has a TSR of 66% for the last 3 years. That exceeds its share price return that we previously mentioned. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!

A Different Perspective

It's good to see that CNA Financial has rewarded shareholders with a total shareholder return of 17% in the last twelve months. And that does include the dividend. Since the one-year TSR is better than the five-year TSR (the latter coming in at 13% per year), it would seem that the stock's performance has improved in recent times. Given the share price momentum remains strong, it might be worth taking a closer look at the stock, lest you miss an opportunity. 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.

We will like CNA Financial better if we see some big insider buys. While we wait, check out this free list of growing companies with considerable, recent, 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 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.