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Investing in Heritage Commerce (NASDAQ:HTBK) a year ago would have delivered you a 58% gain

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These days it's easy to simply buy an index fund, and your returns should (roughly) match the market. But you can significantly boost your returns by picking above-average stocks. To wit, the Heritage Commerce Corp (NASDAQ:HTBK) share price is 49% higher than it was a year ago, much better than the market return of around 30% (not including dividends) in the same period. If it can keep that out-performance up over the long term, investors will do very well! Zooming out, the stock is actually down 19% in the last three years.

Let's take a look at the underlying fundamentals over the longer term, and see if they've been consistent with shareholders returns.

See our latest analysis for Heritage Commerce

There is no denying that markets are sometimes efficient, but prices do not always reflect underlying business performance. 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.

Heritage Commerce was able to grow EPS by 33% in the last twelve months. The share price gain of 49% certainly outpaced the EPS growth. This indicates that the market is now more optimistic about 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. But while CEO remuneration is always worth checking, the really important question is whether the company can grow earnings going forward. Before buying or selling a stock, we always recommend a close examination of historic growth trends, available here..

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. In the case of Heritage Commerce, it has a TSR of 58% for the last 1 year. That exceeds its share price return that we previously mentioned. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.

A Different Perspective

It's nice to see that Heritage Commerce shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 58% over the last year. And that does include the dividend. Since the one-year TSR is better than the five-year TSR (the latter coming in at 6% per year), it would seem that the stock's performance has improved in recent times. Given the share price momentum remains strong, it might be worth taking a closer look at the stock, lest you miss an opportunity. 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 - Heritage Commerce has 1 warning sign we think you should be aware of.

But note: Heritage Commerce may not be the best stock to buy. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with past earnings growth (and further growth forecast).

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

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.

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

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