Investing in C&F Financial (NASDAQ:CFFI) a year ago would have delivered you a 27% gain

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The simplest way to invest in stocks is to buy exchange traded funds. But investors can boost returns by picking market-beating companies to own shares in. To wit, the C&F Financial Corporation (NASDAQ:CFFI) share price is 23% higher than it was a year ago, much better than the market decline of around 9.0% (not including dividends) in the same period. So that should have shareholders smiling. Having said that, the longer term returns aren’t so impressive, with stock gaining just 7.9% in three years.

Now it’s worth having a look at the company’s fundamentals too, because that will help us determine if the long term shareholder return has matched the performance of the underlying business.

View our latest analysis for C&F Financial

There is no denying that markets are sometimes efficient, but prices do not always reflect underlying business performance. By comparing earnings per share (EPS) and share price changes over time, we can get a feel for how investor attitudes to a company have morphed over time.

C&F Financial was able to grow EPS by 8.9% in the last twelve months. The share price gain of 23% certainly outpaced the EPS growth. This indicates that the market is now more optimistic about the stock.

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

earnings-per-share-growth

It might be well worthwhile taking a look at our free report on C&F Financial’s earnings, revenue and cash flow.

What About Dividends?

When looking at investment returns, it is important to consider the difference between total shareholder return (TSR) and share price return. 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, C&F Financial’s TSR for the last 1 year was 27%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.

A Different Perspective

It’s nice to see that C&F Financial shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 27% over the last year. And that does include the dividend. That’s better than the annualised return of 4% 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. Importantly, we haven’t analysed C&F Financial’s dividend history. This free visual report on its dividends is a must-read if you’re thinking of buying.

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.

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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.