Investing in SmartFinancial (NASDAQ:SMBK) three years ago would have delivered you a 19% gain

Buying a low-cost index fund will get you the average market return. But if you invest in individual stocks, some are likely to underperform. For example, the SmartFinancial, Inc. (NASDAQ:SMBK) share price return of 15% over three years lags the market return in the same period. Zooming in, the stock is up just 4.2% in the last year.

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.

See our latest analysis for SmartFinancial

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.

SmartFinancial was able to grow its EPS at 10.0% per year over three years, sending the share price higher. This EPS growth is higher than the 5% average annual increase in the share price. So one could reasonably conclude that the market has cooled on the stock.

The company’s earnings per share (over time) is depicted in the image below (click to see the exact numbers).

earnings-per-share-growth

We’re pleased to report that the CEO is remunerated more modestly than most CEOs at similarly capitalized companies. But while CEO remuneration is always worth checking, the really important question is whether the company can grow earnings going forward. This free interactive report on SmartFinancial’s earnings, revenue and cash flow is a great place to start, if you want to investigate the stock further.

What About Dividends?

As well as measuring the share price return, investors should also consider the total shareholder return (TSR). 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. In the case of SmartFinancial, it has a TSR of 19% for the last 3 years. That exceeds its share price return that we previously mentioned. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!

A Different Perspective

It’s nice to see that SmartFinancial shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 5.2% over the last year. That’s including the dividend. That’s better than the annualised return of 0.8% over half a decade, implying that the company is doing better recently. Someone with an optimistic perspective could view the recent improvement in TSR as indicating that the business itself is getting better with time. 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. For example, we’ve discovered 2 warning signs for SmartFinancial that you should be aware of before investing here.

For those who like to find winning investments this free list of growing companies with recent insider purchasing, could be just the ticket.

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