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Insurance Australia Group's (ASX:IAG) Shareholders Are Down 34% On Their Shares

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·3 min read
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In order to justify the effort of selecting individual stocks, it's worth striving to beat the returns from a market index fund. But the risk of stock picking is that you will likely buy under-performing companies. Unfortunately, that's been the case for longer term Insurance Australia Group Limited (ASX:IAG) shareholders, since the share price is down 34% in the last three years, falling well short of the market return of around 25%. The more recent news is of little comfort, with the share price down 31% in a year. It's down 2.2% in the last seven days.

See our latest analysis for Insurance Australia Group

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. 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).

During the three years that the share price fell, Insurance Australia Group's earnings per share (EPS) dropped by 22% each year. In comparison the 13% compound annual share price decline isn't as bad as the EPS drop-off. So the market may not be too worried about the EPS figure, at the moment -- or it may have previously priced some of the drop in.

You can see below how EPS has changed over time (discover the exact values by clicking on the image).

earnings-per-share-growth
earnings-per-share-growth

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. Dive deeper into the earnings by checking this interactive graph of Insurance Australia Group's earnings, revenue and cash flow.

What about the Total Shareholder Return (TSR)?

Investors should note that there's a difference between Insurance Australia Group's total shareholder return (TSR) and its share price change, which we've covered above. Arguably the TSR is a more complete return calculation because it accounts for the value of dividends (as if they were reinvested), along with the hypothetical value of any discounted capital that have been offered to shareholders. Insurance Australia Group's TSR of was a loss of 24% for the 3 years. That wasn't as bad as its share price return, because it has paid dividends.

A Different Perspective

Insurance Australia Group shareholders are down 30% for the year, but the market itself is up 3.0%. Even the share prices of good stocks drop sometimes, but we want to see improvements in the fundamental metrics of a business, before getting too interested. On the bright side, long term shareholders have made money, with a gain of 3% per year over half a decade. If the fundamental data continues to indicate long term sustainable growth, the current sell-off could be an opportunity worth considering. I find it very interesting to look at share price over the long term as a proxy for business performance. But to truly gain insight, we need to consider other information, too. Even so, be aware that Insurance Australia Group is showing 2 warning signs in our investment analysis , you should know about...

Insurance Australia Group 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 AU exchanges.

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. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.