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Pinnacle Financial Partners (NASDAQ:PNFP) jumps 3.3% this week, though earnings growth is still tracking behind three-year shareholder returns

By buying an index fund, you can roughly match the market return with ease. But if you pick the right individual stocks, you could make more than that. For example, the Pinnacle Financial Partners, Inc. (NASDAQ:PNFP) share price is up 37% in the last three years, clearly besting the market return of around 25% (not including dividends).

Since the stock has added US$202m to its market cap in the past week alone, let's see if underlying performance has been driving long-term returns.

Check out our latest analysis for Pinnacle Financial Partners

To quote Buffett, 'Ships will sail around the world but the Flat Earth Society will flourish. There will continue to be wide discrepancies between price and value in the marketplace...' 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.

Pinnacle Financial Partners was able to grow its EPS at 11% per year over three years, sending the share price higher. This EPS growth is remarkably close to the 11% average annual increase in the share price. This suggests that sentiment and expectations have not changed drastically. Au contraire, the share price change has arguably mimicked the EPS growth.

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

We know that Pinnacle Financial Partners has improved its bottom line lately, but is it going to grow revenue? You could check out this free report showing analyst revenue forecasts.

What About Dividends?

As well as measuring the share price return, investors should also consider the 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. It's fair to say that the TSR gives a more complete picture for stocks that pay a dividend. As it happens, Pinnacle Financial Partners' TSR for the last 3 years was 42%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!

A Different Perspective

While it's certainly disappointing to see that Pinnacle Financial Partners shares lost 13% throughout the year, that wasn't as bad as the market loss of 17%. Of course, the long term returns are far more important and the good news is that over five years, the stock has returned 5% for each year. In the best case scenario the last year is just a temporary blip on the journey to a brighter future. I find it very interesting to look at share price over the long term as a proxy for business performance. But to truly gain insight, we need to consider other information, too. Case in point: We've spotted 1 warning sign for Pinnacle Financial Partners you should be aware of.

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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