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In order to justify the effort of selecting individual stocks, it’s worth striving to beat the returns from a market index fund. But if you try your hand at stock picking, your risk returning less than the market. Unfortunately, that’s been the case for longer term PICO Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ:PICO) shareholders, since the share price is down 53% in the last three years, falling well short of the market return of around 44%. And the ride hasn’t got any smoother in recent times over the last year, with the price 22% lower in that time. More recently, the share price has dropped a further 9.8% in a month. Importantly, this could be a market reaction to the recently released financial results. You can check out the latest numbers in our company report.

Check out our latest analysis for PICO Holdings

While the efficient markets hypothesis continues to be taught by some, it has been proven that markets are over-reactive dynamic systems, and investors are not always rational. 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, PICO Holdings moved from a loss to profitability. That would generally be considered a positive, so we are surprised to see the share price is down. So given the share price is down it’s worth checking some other metrics too.

We note that, in three years, revenue has actually grown at a 3.6% annual rate, so that doesn’t seem to be a reason to sell shares. This analysis is just perfunctory, but it might be worth researching PICO Holdings more closely, as sometimes stocks fall unfairly. This could present an opportunity.

The company’s revenue and earnings (over time) are depicted in the image below (click to see the exact numbers).

earnings-and-revenue-growth

Take a more thorough look at PICO Holdings’ financial health with this free report on its balance sheet.

What about the Total Shareholder Return (TSR)?

We’ve already covered PICO Holdings’ share price action, but we should also mention its total shareholder return (TSR). 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. PICO Holdings hasn’t been paying dividends, but its TSR of -35% exceeds its share price return of -53%, implying it has either spun-off a business, or raised capital at a discount; thereby providing additional value to shareholders.

A Different Perspective

While the broader market gained around 20% in the last year, PICO Holdings shareholders lost 22%. However, keep in mind that even the best stocks will sometimes underperform the market over a twelve month period. Longer term investors wouldn’t be so upset, since they would have made 4%, each year, over five years. It could be that the recent sell-off is an opportunity, so it may be worth checking the fundamental data for signs of a long term growth trend. Before spending more time on PICO Holdings it might be wise to click here to see if insiders have been buying or selling shares.

If you would prefer to check out another company — one with potentially superior financials — then do not miss this free list of companies that have proven they can grow earnings.

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. 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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