Smartgroup Corporation Ltd (ASX:SIQ) shareholders might be concerned after seeing the share price drop 19% in the last month. But that doesn't undermine the fantastic longer term performance (measured over five years). In that time, the share price has soared some 619% higher! Arguably, the recent fall is to be expected after such a strong rise. Only time will tell if there is still too much optimism currently reflected in the share price.
We love happy stories like this one. The company should be really proud of that performance!
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...' One imperfect but simple way to consider how the market perception of a company has shifted is to compare the change in the earnings per share (EPS) with the share price movement.
During the last half decade, Smartgroup became profitable. That kind of transition can be an inflection point that justifies a strong share price gain, just as we have seen here. Since the company was unprofitable five years ago, but not three years ago, it's worth taking a look at the returns in the last three years, too. Indeed, the Smartgroup share price has gained 57% in three years. In the same period, EPS is up 26% per year. This EPS growth is higher than the 16% average annual increase in the share price over the same three years. 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).
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. This free interactive report on Smartgroup's earnings, revenue and cash flow is a great place to start, if you want to investigate the stock further.
What About Dividends?
When looking at investment returns, it is important to consider the difference between total shareholder return (TSR) and share price return. 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 Smartgroup the TSR over the last 5 years was 814%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. And there's no prize for guessing that the dividend payments largely explain the divergence!
A Different Perspective
Investors in Smartgroup had a tough year, with a total loss of 2.3% (including dividends) , against a market gain of about 24%. 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 56% 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. If you want to research this stock further, the data on insider buying is an obvious place to start. You can click here to see who has been buying shares - and the price they paid.
Smartgroup 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 AU exchanges.
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.
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