Investing in Griffon (NYSE:GFF) three years ago would have delivered you a 76% gain

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You can receive the average market return by buying a low-cost index fund. But you can make superior returns by picking better-than average stocks. For example, the Griffon Corporation (NYSE:GFF) share price is up 67% in the last three years, slightly above the market return. More recently the stock has gained 9.0% in a year, which isn’t too bad.

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

View our latest analysis for Griffon

To quote Buffett, ‘Ships will sail around the world but the Flat Earth Society will flourish. There will continue to be wide discrepancies between price and value in the marketplace…’ 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, Griffon achieved compound earnings per share growth of 19% per year. This EPS growth is remarkably close to the 19% average annual increase in the share price. This suggests that sentiment and expectations have not changed drastically. Rather, the share price has approximately tracked EPS growth.

The image below shows how EPS has tracked over time (if you click on the image you can see greater detail).

earnings-per-share-growth

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 Griffon’s earnings, revenue and cash flow.

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. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. We note that for Griffon the TSR over the last 3 years was 76%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. And there’s no prize for guessing that the dividend payments largely explain the divergence!

A Different Perspective

Griffon shareholders gained a total return of 11% during the year. Unfortunately this falls short of the market return. It’s probably a good sign that the company has an even better long term track record, having provided shareholders with an annual TSR of 12% over five years. It’s quite possible the business continues to execute with prowess, even as the share price gains are slowing. 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 – Griffon has 1 warning sign we think you should be aware of.

Griffon 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 US exchanges.

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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