Insperity's (NYSE:NSP) three-year earnings growth trails the respectable shareholder returns

Insperity, Inc. +1.45%

Insperity, Inc.

NSP

108.35

+1.45%

By buying an index fund, investors can approximate the average market return. But many of us dare to dream of bigger returns, and build a portfolio ourselves. For example, the Insperity, Inc. (NYSE:NSP) share price is up 28% in the last three years, clearly besting the market return of around 17% (not including dividends).

Since the stock has added US$249m to its market cap in the past week alone, let's see if underlying performance has been driving long-term returns.

See our latest analysis for Insperity

To paraphrase Benjamin Graham: Over the short term the market is a voting machine, but over the long term it's a weighing machine. 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).

Insperity was able to grow its EPS at 8.8% per year over three years, sending the share price higher. This EPS growth is remarkably close to the 9% average annual increase in the share price. This observation indicates that the market's attitude to the business hasn't changed all that much. Au contraire, the share price change has arguably mimicked the EPS growth.

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

earnings-per-share-growth
NYSE:NSP Earnings Per Share Growth March 29th 2024

Before buying or selling a stock, we always recommend a close examination of historic growth trends, available here.

What About Dividends?

When looking at investment returns, it is important to consider the difference between total shareholder return (TSR) and share price return. Whereas the share price return only reflects the change in the share price, the TSR includes the value of dividends (assuming they were reinvested) and the benefit of any discounted capital raising or spin-off. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. As it happens, Insperity's TSR for the last 3 years was 38%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!

A Different Perspective

While the broader market gained around 30% in the last year, Insperity shareholders lost 5.6% (even including dividends). However, keep in mind that even the best stocks will sometimes underperform the market over a twelve month period. Regrettably, last year's performance caps off a bad run, with the shareholders facing a total loss of 0.9% per year over five years. We realise that Baron Rothschild has said investors should "buy when there is blood on the streets", but we caution that investors should first be sure they are buying a high quality business. 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. Take risks, for example - Insperity has 1 warning sign we think you should be aware of.

Of course Insperity may not be the best stock to buy. So you may wish to see this free collection of growth stocks.

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

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