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The total return for National Bank of Canada (TSE:NA) investors has risen faster than earnings growth over the last five years

Stock pickers are generally looking for stocks that will outperform the broader market. Buying under-rated businesses is one path to excess returns. For example, long term National Bank of Canada (TSE:NA) shareholders have enjoyed a 36% share price rise over the last half decade, well in excess of the market return of around 15% (not including dividends).

Although National Bank of Canada has shed CA$2.4b from its market cap this week, let's take a look at its longer term fundamental trends and see if they've driven returns.

See our latest analysis for National Bank of Canada

While markets are a powerful pricing mechanism, share prices reflect investor sentiment, not just underlying business performance. By comparing earnings per share (EPS) and share price changes over time, we can get a feel for how investor attitudes to a company have morphed over time.

During five years of share price growth, National Bank of Canada achieved compound earnings per share (EPS) growth of 15% per year. This EPS growth is higher than the 6% average annual increase in the share price. Therefore, it seems the market has become relatively pessimistic about the company. This cautious sentiment is reflected in its (fairly low) P/E ratio of 8.41.

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

It's good to see that there was some significant insider buying in the last three months. That's a positive. That said, we think earnings and revenue growth trends are even more important factors to consider. 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 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 National Bank of Canada, it has a TSR of 67% for the last 5 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 6.2% in the twelve months, National Bank of Canada shareholders did even worse, losing 14% (even including dividends). Having said that, it's inevitable that some stocks will be oversold in a falling market. The key is to keep your eyes on the fundamental developments. On the bright side, long term shareholders have made money, with a gain of 11% per year over half a decade. It could be that the recent sell-off is an opportunity, so it may be worth checking the fundamental data for signs of a long term growth trend. While it is well worth considering the different impacts that market conditions can have on the share price, there are other factors that are even more important. Case in point: We've spotted 1 warning sign for National Bank of Canada you should be aware of.

National Bank of Canada 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 CA 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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