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Those who invested in Community Financial (NASDAQ:TCFC) three years ago are up 18%

Buying a low-cost index fund will get you the average market return. But in any diversified portfolio of stocks, you'll see some that fall short of the average. Unfortunately for shareholders, while the The Community Financial Corporation (NASDAQ:TCFC) share price is up 11% in the last three years, that falls short of the market return. At least the stock price is up over the last year, albeit only by 2.5%.

With that in mind, it's worth seeing if the company's underlying fundamentals have been the driver of long term performance, or if there are some discrepancies.

Check out our latest analysis for Community Financial

In his essay The Superinvestors of Graham-and-Doddsville Warren Buffett described how share prices do not always rationally reflect the value of a business. 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.

Community Financial was able to grow its EPS at 22% per year over three years, sending the share price higher. The average annual share price increase of 4% is actually lower than the EPS growth. So one could reasonably conclude that the market has cooled on the stock. We'd venture the lowish P/E ratio of 7.66 also reflects the negative sentiment around the stock.

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

earnings-per-share-growth
earnings-per-share-growth

It's probably worth noting that the CEO is paid less than the median at similar sized companies. It's always worth keeping an eye on CEO pay, but a more important question is whether the company will grow earnings throughout the years. Dive deeper into the earnings by checking this interactive graph of Community Financial's earnings, revenue and cash flow.

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. We note that for Community Financial the TSR over the last 3 years was 18%, 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

We're pleased to report that Community Financial shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 4.5% over one year. Of course, that includes the dividend. That's better than the annualised return of 2% over half a decade, implying that the company is doing better recently. Someone with an optimistic perspective could view the recent improvement in TSR as indicating that the business itself is getting better with time. Before spending more time on Community Financial it might be wise to click here to see if insiders have been buying or selling shares.

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.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.

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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