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Investors in AMERISAFE (NASDAQ:AMSF) have made a return of 2.4% over the past three years

While it may not be enough for some shareholders, we think it is good to see the AMERISAFE, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMSF) share price up 17% in a single quarter. But that doesn't help the fact that the three year return is less impressive. In fact, the share price is down 15% in the last three years, falling well short of the market return.

With that in mind, it's worth seeing if the company's underlying fundamentals have been the driver of long term performance, or if there are some discrepancies.

View our latest analysis for AMERISAFE

While the efficient markets hypothesis continues to be taught by some, it has been proven that markets are over-reactive dynamic systems, and investors are not always rational. 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.

During the three years that the share price fell, AMERISAFE's earnings per share (EPS) dropped by 21% each year. In comparison the 5% compound annual share price decline isn't as bad as the EPS drop-off. So, despite the prior disappointment, shareholders must have some confidence the situation will improve, longer term.

The company's earnings per share (over time) is depicted in the image below (click to see the exact numbers).

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

It's probably worth noting that the CEO is paid less than the median at similar sized companies. It's always worth keeping an eye on CEO pay, but a more important question is whether the company will grow earnings throughout the years. It might be well worthwhile taking a look at our free report on AMERISAFE's earnings, revenue and cash flow.

What About Dividends?

As well as measuring the share price return, investors should also consider the total shareholder return (TSR). 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. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. We note that for AMERISAFE the TSR over the last 3 years was 2.4%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!

A Different Perspective

It's good to see that AMERISAFE has rewarded shareholders with a total shareholder return of 8.3% in the last twelve months. That's including the dividend. That's better than the annualised return of 5% over half a decade, implying that the company is doing better recently. In the best case scenario, this may hint at some real business momentum, implying that now could be a great time to delve deeper. It's always interesting to track share price performance over the longer term. But to understand AMERISAFE better, we need to consider many other factors. Consider for instance, the ever-present spectre of investment risk. We've identified 2 warning signs with AMERISAFE , and understanding them should be part of your investment process.

Of course AMERISAFE may not be the best stock to buy. So you may wish to see this free collection of growth stocks.

Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on US exchanges.

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

This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. 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.

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