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The Provident Financial Services (NYSE:PFS) Share Price Is Up 34% And Shareholders Are Holding On

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The main point of investing for the long term is to make money. Furthermore, you'd generally like to see the share price rise faster than the market Unfortunately for shareholders, while the Provident Financial Services, Inc. (NYSE:PFS) share price is up 34% in the last five years, that's less than the market return. But if you include dividends then the return is market-beating. Zooming in, the stock is actually down 15% in the last year.

See our latest analysis for Provident Financial Services

There is no denying that markets are sometimes efficient, but prices do not always reflect underlying business performance. By comparing earnings per share (EPS) and share price changes over time, we can get a feel for how investor attitudes to a company have morphed over time.

Over half a decade, Provident Financial Services managed to grow its earnings per share at 9.0% a year. The EPS growth is more impressive than the yearly share price gain of 6.1% over the same period. So one could conclude that the broader market has become more cautious towards the stock.

The graphic below depicts how EPS has changed over time (unveil the exact values by clicking on the image).

NYSE:PFS Past and Future Earnings, June 5th 2019

We consider it positive that insiders have made significant purchases in the last year. Having said that, most people consider earnings and revenue growth trends to be a more meaningful guide to the business. Before buying or selling a stock, we always recommend a close examination of historic growth trends, available here..

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 is a return calculation that accounts for the value of cash dividends (assuming that any dividend received was reinvested) and the calculated value of any discounted capital raisings and spin-offs. It's fair to say that the TSR gives a more complete picture for stocks that pay a dividend. We note that for Provident Financial Services the TSR over the last 5 years was 61%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.

A Different Perspective

Investors in Provident Financial Services had a tough year, with a total loss of 11% (including dividends), against a market gain of about 1.2%. 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 10.0%, 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. 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.

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.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.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. Thank you for reading.