Investors can buy low cost index fund if they want to receive the average market return. But across the board there are plenty of stocks that underperform the market. That's what has happened with the ServisFirst Bancshares, Inc. (NASDAQ:SFBS) share price. It's up 32% over three years, but that is below the market return. Zooming in, the stock is actually down 24% in the last year.
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 flawed but reasonable way to assess how sentiment around a company has changed is to compare the earnings per share (EPS) with the share price.
ServisFirst Bancshares was able to grow its EPS at 24% per year over three years, sending the share price higher. This EPS growth is higher than the 9.8% average annual increase in the share price. Therefore, it seems the market has moderated its expectations for growth, somewhat.
You can see below how EPS has changed over time (discover 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. This free interactive report on ServisFirst Bancshares's earnings, revenue and cash flow is a great place to start, if you want to investigate the stock further.
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 incorporates the value of any spin-offs or discounted capital raisings, along with any dividends, based on the assumption that the dividends are reinvested. It's fair to say that the TSR gives a more complete picture for stocks that pay a dividend. In the case of ServisFirst Bancshares, it has a TSR of 36% for the last 3 years. That exceeds its share price return that we previously mentioned. And there's no prize for guessing that the dividend payments largely explain the divergence!
A Different Perspective
The last twelve months weren't great for ServisFirst Bancshares shares, which cost holders 23%, including dividends, while the market was up about 9.9%. Of course the long term matters more than the short term, and even great stocks will sometimes have a poor year. Investors are up over three years, booking 11% per year, much better than the more recent returns. Sometimes when a good quality long term winner has a weak period, it's turns out to be an opportunity, but you really need to be sure that the quality is there. Investors who like to make money usually check up on insider purchases, such as the price paid, and total amount bought. You can find out about the insider purchases of ServisFirst Bancshares by clicking this link.
There are plenty of other companies that have insiders buying up shares. You probably do not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying.
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 email@example.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.