If you buy and hold a stock for many years, you'd hope to be making a profit. But more than that, you probably want to see it rise more than the market average. But Provident Financial Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ:PROV) has fallen short of that second goal, with a share price rise of 38% over five years, which is below the market return. Zooming in, the stock is up a respectable 7.1% in the last year.
There is no denying that markets are sometimes efficient, but prices do not always reflect underlying business performance. One flawed but reasonable way to assess how sentiment around a company has changed is to compare the earnings per share (EPS) with the share price.
Provident Financial Holdings's earnings per share are down 6.3% per year, despite strong share price performance over five years. This means it's unlikely the market is judging the company based on earnings growth. Because earnings per share don't seem to match up with the share price, we'll take a look at other metrics instead.
The revenue reduction of 4.9% per year is not a positive. It certainly surprises us that the share price is up, but perhaps a closer examination of the data will yield answers.
The graphic below shows how revenue and earnings have changed as management guided the business forward. If you want to see cashflow, you can click on the chart.
We know that Provident Financial Holdings has improved its bottom line lately, but what does the future have in store? You can see what analysts are predicting for Provident Financial Holdings in this interactive graph of future profit estimates.
What About Dividends?
When looking at investment returns, it is important to consider the difference between total shareholder return (TSR) and share price return. Whereas the share price return only reflects the change in the share price, the TSR includes the value of dividends (assuming they were reinvested) and the benefit of any discounted capital raising or spin-off. It's fair to say that the TSR gives a more complete picture for stocks that pay a dividend. As it happens, Provident Financial Holdings's TSR for the last 5 years was 60%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. And there's no prize for guessing that the dividend payments largely explain the divergence!
A Different Perspective
Provident Financial Holdings provided a TSR of 10% over the year (including dividends). That's fairly close to the broader market return. Most would be happy with a gain, and it helps that the year's return is actually better than the average return over five years, which was 9.9%. It is possible that management foresight will bring growth well into the future, even if the share price slows down. If you would like to research Provident Financial Holdings in more detail then you might want to take a look at whether insiders have been buying or selling shares in the company.
We will like Provident Financial Holdings 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.
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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.