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ECB Bancorp (NASDAQ:ECBK) shareholders have endured a 11% loss from investing in the stock a year ago

While it may not be enough for some shareholders, we think it is good to see the ECB Bancorp, Inc. (NASDAQ:ECBK) share price up 11% in a single quarter. But that doesn't change the fact that the returns over the last year have been less than pleasing. In fact the stock is down 11% in the last year, well below the market return.

Since shareholders are down over the longer term, lets look at the underlying fundamentals over the that time and see if they've been consistent with returns.

See our latest analysis for ECB Bancorp

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).

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Unfortunately ECB Bancorp reported an EPS drop of 45% for the last year. The share price fall of 11% isn't as bad as the reduction in earnings per share. So the market may not be too worried about the EPS figure, at the moment -- or it may have expected earnings to drop faster. Indeed, with a P/E ratio of 50.35 there is obviously some real optimism that earnings will bounce back.

You can see below how EPS has changed over time (discover the exact values by clicking on the image).

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

It's probably worth noting we've seen significant insider buying in the last quarter, which we consider a positive. On the other hand, we think the revenue and earnings trends are much more meaningful measures of the business. Before buying or selling a stock, we always recommend a close examination of historic growth trends, available here..

A Different Perspective

Given that the market gained 8.2% in the last year, ECB Bancorp shareholders might be miffed that they lost 11%. However, keep in mind that even the best stocks will sometimes underperform the market over a twelve month period. Putting aside the last twelve months, it's good to see the share price has rebounded by 11%, in the last ninety days. Let's just hope this isn't the widely-feared 'dead cat bounce' (which would indicate further declines to come). 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. Take risks, for example - ECB Bancorp has 1 warning sign we think you should be aware of.

If you like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).

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.