Many investors define successful investing as beating the market average over the long term. But if you try your hand at stock picking, your risk returning less than the market. We regret to report that long term Sierra Bancorp (NASDAQ:BSRR) shareholders have had that experience, with the share price dropping 39% in three years, versus a market return of about 38%. And over the last year the share price fell 39%, so we doubt many shareholders are delighted. Unfortunately the share price momentum is still quite negative, with prices down 9.4% in thirty days.
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 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 unfortunate three years of share price decline, Sierra Bancorp actually saw its earnings per share (EPS) improve by 17% per year. This is quite a puzzle, and suggests there might be something temporarily buoying the share price. Or else the company was over-hyped in the past, and so its growth has disappointed.
Since the change in EPS doesn't seem to correlate with the change in share price, it's worth taking a look at other metrics.
We note that the dividend seems healthy enough, so that probably doesn't explain the share price drop. It's good to see that Sierra Bancorp has increased its revenue over the last three years. If the company can keep growing revenue, there may be an opportunity for investors. You might have to dig deeper to understand the recent share price weakness.
You can see how earnings and revenue have changed over time in the image below (click on the chart to see the exact values).
If you are thinking of buying or selling Sierra Bancorp stock, you should check out this FREE detailed report on its balance sheet.
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. We note that for Sierra Bancorp the TSR over the last 3 years was -34%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!
A Different Perspective
While the broader market gained around 15% in the last year, Sierra Bancorp shareholders lost 36% (even including dividends). 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. Longer term investors wouldn't be so upset, since they would have made 3.5%, each year, over five years. It could be that the recent sell-off is an opportunity, so it may be worth checking the fundamental data for signs of a long term growth trend. 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 Sierra Bancorp is showing 2 warning signs in our investment analysis , and 1 of those is concerning...
Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking elsewhere. So take a peek at this free list of companies we expect will grow earnings.
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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