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If you want to compound wealth in the stock market, you can do so by buying an index fund. But you can significantly boost your returns by picking above-average stocks. To wit, the Atlantic American Corporation (NASDAQ:AAME) share price is 45% higher than it was a year ago, much better than the market return of around 21% (not including dividends) in the same period. So that should have shareholders smiling. Unfortunately the longer term returns are not so good, with the stock falling 24% in the last three years.
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 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 year Atlantic American grew its earnings per share, moving from a loss to a profit.
When a company is just on the edge of profitability it can be well worth considering other metrics in order to more precisely gauge growth (and therefore understand share price movements).
Atlantic American's revenue actually dropped 3.8% over last year. So using a snapshot of key business metrics doesn't give us a good picture of why the market is bidding up the stock.
You can see how earnings and revenue have changed over time in the image below (click on the chart to see the exact values).
You can see how its balance sheet has strengthened (or weakened) over time in this free interactive graphic.
A Different Perspective
It's good to see that Atlantic American has rewarded shareholders with a total shareholder return of 45% in the last twelve months. There's no doubt those recent returns are much better than the TSR loss of 7% per year over five years. This makes us a little wary, but the business might have turned around its fortunes. 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. Take risks, for example - Atlantic American has 2 warning signs (and 1 which doesn't sit too well with us) we think you should know about.
If you like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).
Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on US 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.
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