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Insurance Australia Group (ASX:IAG) investors are sitting on a loss of 42% if they invested three years ago

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For many investors, the main point of stock picking is to generate higher returns than the overall market. But its virtually certain that sometimes you will buy stocks that fall short of the market average returns. Unfortunately, that's been the case for longer term Insurance Australia Group Limited (ASX:IAG) shareholders, since the share price is down 47% in the last three years, falling well short of the market return of around 16%. Unfortunately the share price momentum is still quite negative, with prices down 8.1% in thirty days. We do note, however, that the broader market is down 7.8% in that period, and this may have weighed on the share price.

Now let's have a look at the company's fundamentals, and see if the long term shareholder return has matched the performance of the underlying business.

See our latest analysis for Insurance Australia Group

While markets are a powerful pricing mechanism, share prices reflect investor sentiment, not just underlying business performance. 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).

Insurance Australia Group became profitable within the last five years. We would usually expect to see the share price rise as a result. So it's worth looking at other metrics to try to understand the share price move.

It's quite likely that the declining dividend has caused some investors to sell their shares, pushing the price lower in the process. In contrast it does not seem particularly likely that the revenue levels are a concern for investors.

You can see below how earnings and revenue have changed over time (discover the exact values by clicking on the image).

earnings-and-revenue-growth
earnings-and-revenue-growth

We like that insiders have been buying shares in the last twelve months. Even so, future earnings will be far more important to whether current shareholders make money. So it makes a lot of sense to check out what analysts think Insurance Australia Group will earn in the future (free profit 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. Arguably, the TSR gives a more comprehensive picture of the return generated by a stock. In the case of Insurance Australia Group, it has a TSR of -42% for the last 3 years. That exceeds its share price return that we previously mentioned. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!

A Different Perspective

While the broader market lost about 5.6% in the twelve months, Insurance Australia Group shareholders did even worse, losing 15% (even including dividends). However, it could simply be that the share price has been impacted by broader market jitters. It might be worth keeping an eye on the fundamentals, in case there's a good opportunity. Unfortunately, last year's performance may indicate unresolved challenges, given that it was worse than the annualised loss of 3% over the last half decade. Generally speaking long term share price weakness can be a bad sign, though contrarian investors might want to research the stock in hope of a turnaround. 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 example, we've discovered 1 warning sign for Insurance Australia Group that you should be aware of before investing here.

Insurance Australia Group is not the only stock that insiders are buying. For those who like to find winning investments this free list of growing companies with recent insider purchasing, could be just the ticket.

Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on AU 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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