By buying an index fund, investors can approximate the average market return. But if you choose individual stocks with prowess, you can make superior returns. Just take a look at National Bank of Canada (TSE:NA), which is up 60%, over three years, soundly beating the market return of 35% (not including dividends). On the other hand, the returns haven't been quite so good recently, with shareholders up just 9.0% , including dividends .
In light of the stock dropping 3.3% in the past week, we want to investigate the longer term story, and see if fundamentals have been the driver of the company's positive three-year return.
While markets are a powerful pricing mechanism, share prices reflect investor sentiment, not just 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.
During three years of share price growth, National Bank of Canada achieved compound earnings per share growth of 13% per year. In comparison, the 17% per year gain in the share price outpaces the EPS growth. This suggests that, as the business progressed over the last few years, it gained the confidence of market participants. That's not necessarily surprising considering the three-year track record of earnings growth.
The company's earnings per share (over time) is depicted in the image below (click to see the exact numbers).
We consider it positive that insiders have made significant purchases in the last year. Having said that, most people consider earnings and revenue growth trends to be a more meaningful guide to the business. Dive deeper into the earnings by checking this interactive graph of National Bank of Canada's earnings, revenue and cash flow.
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 is a return calculation that accounts for the value of cash dividends (assuming that any dividend received was reinvested) and the calculated value of any discounted capital raisings and spin-offs. It's fair to say that the TSR gives a more complete picture for stocks that pay a dividend. In the case of National Bank of Canada, it has a TSR of 80% for the last 3 years. That exceeds its share price return that we previously mentioned. And there's no prize for guessing that the dividend payments largely explain the divergence!
A Different Perspective
It's nice to see that National Bank of Canada shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 9.0% over the last year. That's including the dividend. However, that falls short of the 14% TSR per annum it has made for shareholders, each year, over five years. Potential buyers might understandably feel they've missed the opportunity, but it's always possible business is still firing on all cylinders. It's always interesting to track share price performance over the longer term. But to understand National Bank of Canada better, we need to consider many other factors. Case in point: We've spotted 1 warning sign for National Bank of Canada you should be aware of.
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 Canadian 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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