The simplest way to invest in stocks is to buy exchange traded funds. But the truth is, you can make significant gains if you buy good quality businesses at the right price. For example, the Lakeland Bancorp, Inc. (NASDAQ:LBAI) share price is 51% higher than it was five years ago, which is more than the market average. Over the last year the stock price is up, albeit only a modest 3.2%.
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.
Over half a decade, Lakeland Bancorp managed to grow its earnings per share at 11% a year. The EPS growth is more impressive than the yearly share price gain of 8.6% over the same period. So one could conclude that the broader market has become more cautious towards the stock.
You can see below how EPS has changed over time (discover the exact values by clicking on the image).
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. Dive deeper into the earnings by checking this interactive graph of Lakeland 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. Arguably, the TSR gives a more comprehensive picture of the return generated by a stock. As it happens, Lakeland Bancorp's TSR for the last 5 years was 72%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.
A Different Perspective
Lakeland Bancorp shareholders gained a total return of 6.4% during the year. Unfortunately this falls short of the market return. On the bright side, the longer term returns (running at about 12% a year, over half a decade) look better. Maybe the share price is just taking a breather while the business executes on its growth strategy. 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.
Lakeland Bancorp is not the only stock that insiders are buying. For those who like to find winning investments this free list of growing companies with recent insider purchasing, could be just the ticket.
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 email@example.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.