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When you buy and hold a stock for the long term, you definitely want it to provide a positive return. Furthermore, you’d generally like to see the share price rise faster than the market. But Cincinnati Financial Corporation (NASDAQ:CINF) has fallen short of that second goal, with a share price rise of 70% over five years, which is below the market return. On a brighter note, more newer shareholders are probably rather content with the 28% share price gain over twelve months.

Let’s take a look at the underlying fundamentals over the longer term, and see if they’ve been consistent with shareholders returns.

Check out our latest analysis for Cincinnati Financial

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).

During five years of share price growth, Cincinnati Financial achieved compound earnings per share (EPS) growth of 32% per year. This EPS growth is higher than the 11% average annual increase in the share price. Therefore, it seems the market has become relatively pessimistic about the company. This cautious sentiment is reflected in its (fairly low) P/E ratio of 7.63.

The image below shows how EPS has tracked over time (if you click on the image you can see greater detail).

NasdaqGS:CINF Earnings Per Share Growth January 15th 2022

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. Dive deeper into the earnings by checking this interactive graph of Cincinnati Financial’s earnings, revenue and cash flow.

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. In the case of Cincinnati Financial, it has a TSR of 95% 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

It’s good to see that Cincinnati Financial has rewarded shareholders with a total shareholder return of 30% in the last twelve months. That’s including the dividend. That’s better than the annualised return of 14% over half a decade, implying that the company is doing better recently. Given the share price momentum remains strong, it might be worth taking a closer look at the stock, lest you miss an opportunity. 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. Even so, be aware that Cincinnati Financial is showing 1 warning sign in our investment analysis , you should know about…

Cincinnati Financial is not the only stock that insiders are buying. For those who like to find winning investments this free list of growing companies with recent insider purchasing, could be just the ticket.

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

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.