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As an investor its worth striving to ensure your overall portfolio beats the market average. But its virtually certain that sometimes you will buy stocks that fall short of the market average returns. We regret to report that long term Everest Re Group, Ltd. (NYSE:RE) shareholders have had that experience, with the share price dropping 33% in three years, versus a market return of about 23%. And over the last year the share price fell 31%, so we doubt many shareholders are delighted. It's down 41% in about a quarter.
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. 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.
During the unfortunate three years of share price decline, Everest Re Group actually saw its earnings per share (EPS) improve by 1.3% per year. Given the share price reaction, one might suspect that EPS is not a good guide to the business performance during the period (perhaps due to a one-off loss or gain). Alternatively, growth expectations may have been unreasonable in the past.
It's pretty reasonable to suspect the market was previously to bullish on the stock, and has since moderated expectations. Looking to other metrics might better explain the share price change.
We note that, in three years, revenue has actually grown at a 11% annual rate, so that doesn't seem to be a reason to sell shares. It's probably worth investigating Everest Re Group further; while we may be missing something on this analysis, there might also be an opportunity.
You can see how earnings and revenue have changed over time in the image below (click on the chart to see the exact values).
It's probably worth noting we've seen significant insider buying in the last quarter, which we consider a positive. That said, we think earnings and revenue growth trends are even more important factors to consider. So we recommend checking out this free report showing consensus forecasts
What About Dividends?
As well as measuring the share price return, investors should also consider the total shareholder return (TSR). 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. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. As it happens, Everest Re Group's TSR for the last 3 years was -28%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.
A Different Perspective
While the broader market lost about 3.7% in the twelve months, Everest Re Group shareholders did even worse, losing 29% (even including dividends) . Having said that, it's inevitable that some stocks will be oversold in a falling market. The key is to keep your eyes on the fundamental developments. Longer term investors wouldn't be so upset, since they would have made 0.3%, each year, over five years. If the fundamental data continues to indicate long term sustainable growth, the current sell-off could be an opportunity worth considering. 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. For instance, we've identified 1 warning sign for Everest Re Group that you should be aware of.
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.
If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
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