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It's always best to build a diverse portfolio of shares, since any stock business could lag the broader market. But if you're going to beat the market overall, you need to have individual stocks that outperform. One such company is United Bankshares, Inc. (NASDAQ:UBSI), which saw its share price increase 43% in the last year, slightly above the market return of around 37% (not including dividends). Having said that, the longer term returns aren't so impressive, with stock gaining just 7.6% in three years.
Let's take a look at the underlying fundamentals over the longer term, and see if they've been consistent with shareholders returns.
To paraphrase Benjamin Graham: Over the short term the market is a voting machine, but over the long term it's a weighing machine. 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 last year United Bankshares grew its earnings per share (EPS) by 30%. The share price gain of 43% certainly outpaced the EPS growth. This indicates that the market is now more optimistic about the stock.
You can see how EPS has changed over time in the image below (click on the chart to see the exact values).
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 United Bankshares' 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. 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. In the case of United Bankshares, it has a TSR of 48% for the last 1 year. That exceeds its share price return that we previously mentioned. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.
A Different Perspective
It's nice to see that United Bankshares shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 48% over the last year. Of course, that includes the dividend. That's better than the annualised return of 4% over half a decade, implying that the company is doing better recently. Given the share price momentum remains strong, it might be worth taking a closer look at the stock, lest you miss an opportunity. 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. Consider for instance, the ever-present spectre of investment risk. We've identified 1 warning sign with United Bankshares , and understanding them should be part of your investment process.
United Bankshares 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.
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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