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Optimism for Hercules Capital (NYSE:HTGC) has grown this past week, despite three-year decline in earnings

·3 min read

Investors can buy low cost index fund if they want to receive the average market return. But in any diversified portfolio of stocks, you'll see some that fall short of the average. That's what has happened with the Hercules Capital, Inc. (NYSE:HTGC) share price. It's up 22% over three years, but that is below the market return. Zooming in, the stock is actually down 8.7% in the last year.

Since the stock has added US$111m to its market cap in the past week alone, let's see if underlying performance has been driving long-term returns.

View our latest analysis for Hercules Capital

To paraphrase Benjamin Graham: Over the short term the market is a voting machine, but over the long term it's a weighing machine. 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.

Over the last three years, Hercules Capital failed to grow earnings per share, which fell 58% (annualized).

Thus, it seems unlikely that the market is focussed on EPS growth at the moment. Since the change in EPS doesn't seem to correlate with the change in share price, it's worth taking a look at other metrics.

We note that the dividend is higher than it was preciously, so that may have assisted the share price. Sometimes yield-chasing investors will flock to a company if they think the dividend can grow over time. The revenue growth of about 3.4% per year might also encourage buyers.

The image below shows how earnings and revenue have tracked over time (if you click on the image you can see greater detail).

earnings-and-revenue-growth
earnings-and-revenue-growth

It's probably worth noting we've seen significant insider buying in the last quarter, which we consider a positive. That said, we think earnings and revenue growth trends are even more important factors to consider. This free report showing analyst forecasts should help you form a view on Hercules Capital

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 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. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. In the case of Hercules Capital, it has a TSR of 67% for the last 3 years. That exceeds its share price return that we previously mentioned. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!

A Different Perspective

We're pleased to report that Hercules Capital shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 1.5% over one year. Of course, that includes the dividend. Having said that, the five-year TSR of 14% a year, is even better. The pessimistic view would be that be that the stock has its best days behind it, but on the other hand the price might simply be moderating while the business itself continues to execute. It's always interesting to track share price performance over the longer term. But to understand Hercules Capital better, we need to consider many other factors. Consider for instance, the ever-present spectre of investment risk. We've identified 5 warning signs with Hercules Capital (at least 2 which can't be ignored) , and understanding them should be part of your investment process.

Hercules Capital 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.

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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