For many investors, the main point of stock picking is to generate higher returns than the overall market. But its virtually certain that sometimes you will buy stocks that fall short of the market average returns. Unfortunately, that's been the case for longer term Enterprise Bancorp, Inc. (NASDAQ:EBTC) shareholders, since the share price is down 32% in the last three years, falling well short of the market return of around 9.9%. The more recent news is of little comfort, with the share price down 24% in a year. The falls have accelerated recently, with the share price down 29% in the last three months. But this could be related to the weak market, which is down 24% in the same period.
To quote Buffett, 'Ships will sail around the world but the Flat Earth Society will flourish. There will continue to be wide discrepancies between price and value in the marketplace...' 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 unfortunate three years of share price decline, Enterprise Bancorp actually saw its earnings per share (EPS) improve by 19% per year. Given the share price reaction, one might suspect that EPS is not a good guide to the business performance during the period (perhaps due to a one-off loss or gain). Alternatively, growth expectations may have been unreasonable in the past.
It's worth taking a look at other metrics, because the EPS growth doesn't seem to match with the falling share price.
Revenue is actually up 8.9% over the three years, so the share price drop doesn't seem to hinge on revenue, either. It's probably worth investigating Enterprise Bancorp further; while we may be missing something on this analysis, there might also be an opportunity.
The image below shows how earnings and revenue have tracked over time (if you click on the image you can see greater detail).
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. It might be well worthwhile taking a look at our free report on Enterprise Bancorp'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. It's fair to say that the TSR gives a more complete picture for stocks that pay a dividend. We note that for Enterprise Bancorp the TSR over the last 3 years was -28%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!
A Different Perspective
While the broader market lost about 14% in the twelve months, Enterprise Bancorp shareholders did even worse, losing 22% (even including dividends) . Having said that, it's inevitable that some stocks will be oversold in a falling market. The key is to keep your eyes on the fundamental developments. On the bright side, long term shareholders have made money, with a gain of 3.7% 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. It's always interesting to track share price performance over the longer term. But to understand Enterprise Bancorp better, we need to consider many other factors. Take risks, for example - Enterprise Bancorp has 1 warning sign we think you should be aware of.
There are plenty of other companies that have insiders buying up shares. You probably do not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying.
Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on US exchanges.
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.
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