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Investors in NVE (NASDAQ:NVEC) have seen respectable returns of 36% over the past three years

Buying a low-cost index fund will get you the average market return. But across the board there are plenty of stocks that underperform the market. For example, the NVE Corporation (NASDAQ:NVEC) share price return of 14% over three years lags the market return in the same period. In the last year the stock has gained 13%.

So let's investigate and see if the longer term performance of the company has been in line with the underlying business' progress.

View our latest analysis for NVE

While the efficient markets hypothesis continues to be taught by some, it has been proven that markets are over-reactive dynamic systems, and investors are not always rational. One flawed but reasonable way to assess how sentiment around a company has changed is to compare the earnings per share (EPS) with the share price.

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During three years of share price growth, NVE achieved compound earnings per share growth of 22% per year. 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.

You can see how EPS has changed over time in the image below (click on the chart to see the exact values).

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

We're pleased to report that the CEO is remunerated more modestly than most CEOs at similarly capitalized 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. Before buying or selling a stock, we always recommend a close examination of historic growth trends, available here..

What About Dividends?

It is important to consider the total shareholder return, as well as the share price return, for any given stock. 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. Arguably, the TSR gives a more comprehensive picture of the return generated by a stock. We note that for NVE the TSR over the last 3 years was 36%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!

A Different Perspective

NVE shareholders gained a total return of 19% during the year. But that return falls short of the market. The silver lining is that the gain was actually better than the average annual return of 4% per year over five year. It is possible that returns will improve along with the business fundamentals. 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. To that end, you should be aware of the 1 warning sign we've spotted with NVE .

If you are like me, then you will 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 American 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.