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Investors in Cleveland-Cliffs (NYSE:CLF) have made a enviable return of 389% over the past three years

It might be of some concern to shareholders to see the Cleveland-Cliffs Inc. (NYSE:CLF) share price down 11% in the last month. But that doesn't displace its brilliant performance over three years. The longer term view reveals that the share price is up 381% in that period. As long term investors the recent fall doesn't detract all that much from the longer term story. Only time will tell if there is still too much optimism currently reflected in the share price.

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

View our latest analysis for Cleveland-Cliffs

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.

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During three years of share price growth, Cleveland-Cliffs achieved compound earnings per share growth of 34% per year. This EPS growth is lower than the 69% average annual increase in the share price. 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.

You can see how EPS has changed over time in the image below (click on the chart to see the exact values).

earnings-per-share-growth
earnings-per-share-growth

We consider it positive that insiders have made significant purchases in the last year. Having said that, most people consider earnings and revenue growth trends to be a more meaningful guide to the business. Before buying or selling a stock, we always recommend a close examination of historic growth trends, available here..

What About The Total Shareholder Return (TSR)?

We'd be remiss not to mention the difference between Cleveland-Cliffs' total shareholder return (TSR) and its share price return. The TSR attempts to capture the value of dividends (as if they were reinvested) as well as any spin-offs or discounted capital raisings offered to shareholders. Cleveland-Cliffs' TSR of 389% for the 3 years exceeded its share price return, because it has paid dividends.

A Different Perspective

We regret to report that Cleveland-Cliffs shareholders are down 47% for the year. Unfortunately, that's worse than the broader market decline of 14%. However, it could simply be that the share price has been impacted by broader market jitters. It might be worth keeping an eye on the fundamentals, in case there's a good opportunity. On the bright side, long term shareholders have made money, with a gain of 22% per year over half a decade. If the fundamental data continues to indicate long term sustainable growth, the current sell-off could be an opportunity worth considering. While it is well worth considering the different impacts that market conditions can have on the share price, there are other factors that are even more important. To that end, you should learn about the 4 warning signs we've spotted with Cleveland-Cliffs (including 1 which is potentially serious) .

Cleveland-Cliffs 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 American 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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