In order to justify the effort of selecting individual stocks, it’s worth striving to beat the returns from a market index fund. But if you try your hand at stock picking, your risk returning less than the market. Unfortunately, that’s been the case for longer term United Fire Group, Inc. (NASDAQ:UFCS) shareholders, since the share price is down 29% in the last three years, falling well short of the market return of around 49%.
With that in mind, it’s worth seeing if the company’s underlying fundamentals have been the driver of long term performance, or if there are some discrepancies.
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 five years of share price growth, United Fire Group moved from a loss to profitability. That would generally be considered a positive, so we are surprised to see the share price is down. So given the share price is down it’s worth checking some other metrics too.
With a rather small yield of just 1.9% we doubt that the stock’s share price is based on its dividend. The company has kept revenue pretty healthy over the last three years, so we doubt that explains the falling share price. We’re not entirely sure why the share price is dropped, but it does seem likely investors have become less optimistic about the business.
The image below shows how earnings and revenue have tracked over time (if you click on the image you can see greater detail).
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 it makes a lot of sense to check out what analysts think United Fire Group will earn in the future (free profit forecasts).
What About Dividends?
When looking at investment returns, it is important to consider the difference between total shareholder return (TSR) and share price return. 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. We note that for United Fire Group the TSR over the last 3 years was -22%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!
A Different Perspective
It’s good to see that United Fire Group has rewarded shareholders with a total shareholder return of 30% in the last twelve months. That’s including the dividend. Notably the five-year annualised TSR loss of 2% per year compares very unfavourably with the recent share price performance. We generally put more weight on the long term performance over the short term, but the recent improvement could hint at a (positive) inflection point within the business. It’s always interesting to track share price performance over the longer term. But to understand United Fire Group better, we need to consider many other factors. For instance, we’ve identified 2 warning signs for United Fire Group (1 shouldn’t be ignored) that you should be aware of.
There are plenty of other companies that have insiders buying up shares. You probably do 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 US exchanges.
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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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