For many investors, the main point of stock picking is to generate higher returns than the overall market. But if you try your hand at stock picking, your risk returning less than the market. We regret to report that long term Hilltop Holdings Inc. (NYSE:HTH) shareholders have had that experience, with the share price dropping 33% in three years, versus a market return of about 18%. The falls have accelerated recently, with the share price down 27% in the last three months. Of course, this share price action may well have been influenced by the 15% decline in the broader market, throughout the period.
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 way to examine how market sentiment has changed over time is to look at the interaction between a company's share price and its earnings per share (EPS).
During the unfortunate three years of share price decline, Hilltop Holdings actually saw its earnings per share (EPS) improve by 18% per year. This is quite a puzzle, and suggests there might be something temporarily buoying the share price. Alternatively, growth expectations may have been unreasonable in the past.
It's worth taking a look at other metrics, because the EPS growth doesn't seem to match with the falling share price.
With a rather small yield of just 1.9% we doubt that the stock's share price is based on its dividend. With revenue flat over three years, it seems unlikely that the share price is reflecting the top line. We're not entirely sure why the share price is dropped, but it does seem likely investors have become less optimistic about the business.
You can see below how earnings and revenue have changed over time (discover the exact values by clicking on the image).
We know that Hilltop Holdings has improved its bottom line lately, but what does the future have in store? 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). 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. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. We note that for Hilltop Holdings the TSR over the last 3 years was -31%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. And there's no prize for guessing that the dividend payments largely explain the divergence!
A Different Perspective
We're pleased to report that Hilltop Holdings shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 6.5% over one year. Of course, that includes the dividend. Notably the five-year annualised TSR loss of 0.4% per year compares very unfavourably with the recent share price performance. This makes us a little wary, but the business might have turned around its fortunes. 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. Take risks, for example - Hilltop Holdings has 3 warning signs (and 1 which doesn't sit too well with us) we think you should know about.
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.
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.
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. Thank you for reading.