The main point of investing for the long term is to make money. Furthermore, you'd generally like to see the share price rise faster than the market. Unfortunately for shareholders, while the Barrett Business Services, Inc. (NASDAQ:BBSI) share price is up 26% in the last five years, that's less than the market return. Unfortunately the share price is down 4.4% in the last year.
Now it's worth having a look at the company's fundamentals too, because that will help us determine if the long term shareholder return has matched the performance of the underlying business.
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 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, Barrett Business Services achieved compound earnings per share (EPS) growth of 22% per year. This EPS growth is higher than the 5% average annual increase in the share price. So one could conclude that the broader market has become more cautious towards the stock.
The company's earnings per share (over time) is depicted in the image below (click to see the exact numbers).
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. It might be well worthwhile taking a look at our free report on Barrett Business Services' earnings, revenue and cash flow.
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. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. In the case of Barrett Business Services, it has a TSR of 36% 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 it's never nice to take a loss, Barrett Business Services shareholders can take comfort that , including dividends,their trailing twelve month loss of 2.9% wasn't as bad as the market loss of around 19%. Of course, the long term returns are far more important and the good news is that over five years, the stock has returned 6% for each year. In the best case scenario the last year is just a temporary blip on the journey to a brighter future. 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. To that end, you should learn about the 2 warning signs we've spotted with Barrett Business Services (including 1 which is a bit unpleasant) .
Barrett Business Services 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.
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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.