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The past five years for Aviva (LON:AV.) investors has not been profitable

·3-min read

The main aim of stock picking is to find the market-beating stocks. But the main game is to find enough winners to more than offset the losers So we wouldn't blame long term Aviva plc (LON:AV.) shareholders for doubting their decision to hold, with the stock down 45% over a half decade. Shareholders have had an even rougher run lately, with the share price down 33% in the last 90 days.

Since shareholders are down over the longer term, lets look at the underlying fundamentals over the that time and see if they've been consistent with returns.

Check out our latest analysis for Aviva

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 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 the five years over which the share price declined, Aviva's earnings per share (EPS) dropped by 15% each year. The share price decline of 11% per year isn't as bad as the EPS decline. So investors might expect EPS to bounce back -- or they may have previously foreseen the EPS decline.

The graphic below depicts how EPS has changed over time (unveil the exact values by clicking on the image).

earnings-per-share-growth
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 Aviva'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 incorporates the value of any spin-offs or discounted capital raisings, along with any dividends, based on the assumption that the dividends are reinvested. It's fair to say that the TSR gives a more complete picture for stocks that pay a dividend. As it happens, Aviva's TSR for the last 5 years was -2.9%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. And there's no prize for guessing that the dividend payments largely explain the divergence!

A Different Perspective

It's good to see that Aviva has rewarded shareholders with a total shareholder return of 7.0% in the last twelve months. That's including the dividend. That certainly beats the loss of about 0.6% per year over the last half decade. This makes us a little wary, but the business might have turned around its fortunes. It's always interesting to track share price performance over the longer term. But to understand Aviva better, we need to consider many other factors. For example, we've discovered 4 warning signs for Aviva (1 shouldn't be ignored!) that you should be aware of before investing here.

There are plenty of other companies that have insiders buying up shares. You probably do not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying.

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

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.

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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