Investing in NCC Group (LON:NCC) five years ago would have delivered you a 58% gain

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While NCC Group plc (LON:NCC) shareholders are probably generally happy, the stock hasn’t had particularly good run recently, with the share price falling 18% in the last quarter. Looking further back, the stock has generated good profits over five years. After all, the share price is up a market-beating 40% in that time. Unfortunately not all shareholders will have held it for the long term, so spare a thought for those caught in the 34% decline over the last twelve months.

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 NCC Group

In his essay The Superinvestors of Graham-and-Doddsville Warren Buffett described how share prices do not always rationally reflect the value of a business. One way to examine how market sentiment has changed over time is to look at the interaction between a company’s share price and its earnings per share (EPS).

During five years of share price growth, NCC Group achieved compound earnings per share (EPS) growth of 9.8% per year. The EPS growth is more impressive than the yearly share price gain of 7% over the same period. So it seems the market isn’t so enthusiastic about the stock these days. Of course, with a P/E ratio of 63.53, the market remains optimistic.

You can see below how EPS has changed over time (discover the exact values by clicking on the image).

earnings-per-share-growth

We like that insiders have been buying shares in the last twelve months. Having said that, most people consider earnings and revenue growth trends to be a more meaningful guide to the business. This free interactive report on NCC Group’s earnings, revenue and cash flow is a great place to start, if you want to investigate the stock further.

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. Arguably, the TSR gives a more comprehensive picture of the return generated by a stock. We note that for NCC Group the TSR over the last 5 years was 58%, 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

NCC Group shareholders are down 32% for the year (even including dividends), but the market itself is up 5.5%. Even the share prices of good stocks drop sometimes, but we want to see improvements in the fundamental metrics of a business, before getting too interested. On the bright side, long term shareholders have made money, with a gain of 10% 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. 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 instance, we’ve identified 4 warning signs for NCC Group that you should be aware of.

If you like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).

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