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Passive investing in index funds can generate returns that roughly match the overall market. But if you pick the right individual stocks, you could make more than that. For example, the Prudential Financial, Inc. (NYSE:PRU) share price is up 93% in the last year, clearly besting the market return of around 53% (not including dividends). So that should have shareholders smiling. Having said that, the longer term returns aren't so impressive, with stock gaining just 4.1% in three years.
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 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.
Prudential Financial went from making a loss to reporting a profit, in the last year.
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).
For starters, we suspect the share price has been buoyed by the dividend, which was increased during the year. Income-seeking investors probably helped bid up the stock price.
The graphic below depicts how earnings and revenue have changed over time (unveil the exact values by clicking on the image).
We like that insiders have been buying shares in the last twelve months. Having said that, most people consider earnings and revenue growth trends to be a more meaningful guide to the business. So we recommend checking out this free report showing consensus forecasts
What About Dividends?
When looking at investment returns, it is important to consider the difference between total shareholder return (TSR) and share price return. 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. It's fair to say that the TSR gives a more complete picture for stocks that pay a dividend. As it happens, Prudential Financial's TSR for the last year was 105%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.
A Different Perspective
We're pleased to report that Prudential Financial shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 105% over one year. That's including the dividend. Since the one-year TSR is better than the five-year TSR (the latter coming in at 11% per year), it would seem that the stock's performance has improved in recent times. Given the share price momentum remains strong, it might be worth taking a closer look at the stock, lest you miss an opportunity. It's always interesting to track share price performance over the longer term. But to understand Prudential Financial better, we need to consider many other factors. Even so, be aware that Prudential Financial is showing 3 warning signs in our investment analysis , and 1 of those makes us a bit uncomfortable...
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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