The worst result, after buying shares in a company (assuming no leverage), would be if you lose all the money you put in. But when you pick a company that is really flourishing, you can make more than 100%. For example, the First Business Financial Services, Inc. (NASDAQ:FBIZ) share price has soared 131% in the last three years. How nice for those who held the stock! Also pleasing for shareholders was the 19% gain in the last three months. But this could be related to the strong market, which is up 10.0% in the last three months.
So let’s investigate and see if the longer term performance of the company has been in line with the underlying business’ progress.
There is no denying that markets are sometimes efficient, but prices do not always reflect 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.
First Business Financial Services was able to grow its EPS at 25% per year over three years, sending the share price higher. In comparison, the 32% per year gain in the share price outpaces the EPS growth. This suggests that, as the business progressed over the last few years, it gained the confidence of market participants. That’s not necessarily surprising considering the three-year track record of earnings growth.
The company’s earnings per share (over time) is depicted in the image below (click to see the exact numbers).
It’s probably worth noting we’ve seen significant insider buying in the last quarter, which we consider a positive. That said, we think earnings and revenue growth trends are even more important