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Those who invested in Aviva (LON:AV.) a year ago are up 30%

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Passive investing in index funds can generate returns that roughly match the overall market. But you can significantly boost your returns by picking above-average stocks. For example, the Aviva plc (LON:AV.) share price is up 24% in the last 1 year, clearly besting the market return of around 7.8% (not including dividends). So that should have shareholders smiling. Having said that, the longer term returns aren't so impressive, with stock gaining just 5.4% in three years.

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

See our latest analysis for Aviva

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 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.

Over the last twelve months, Aviva actually shrank its EPS by 43%.

So we don't think that investors are paying too much attention to EPS. Indeed, when EPS is declining but the share price is up, it often means the market is considering other factors.

For starters, we suspect the share price has been buoyed by the dividend, which was increased during the year. It could be that the company is reaching maturity and dividend investors are buying for the yield, pushing the price up in the process. Though we must add that the revenue growth of 11% year on year would have helped paint a pretty picture.

The company's revenue and earnings (over time) are depicted in the image below (click to see the exact numbers).

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

We consider it positive that insiders have made significant purchases in the last year. Even so, future earnings will be far more important to whether current shareholders make money. So we recommend checking out this free report showing consensus forecasts

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. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. As it happens, Aviva's TSR for the last 1 year was 30%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.

A Different Perspective

We're pleased to report that Aviva shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 30% over one year. And that does include the dividend. That gain is better than the annual TSR over five years, which is 3%. Therefore it seems like sentiment around the company has been positive lately. In the best case scenario, this may hint at some real business momentum, implying that now could be a great time to delve deeper. 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 - Aviva has 4 warning signs (and 2 which make us uncomfortable) we think you should know about.

Aviva is not the only stock insiders are buying. So take a peek at this free list of growing companies with insider buying.

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