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Big River Industries Limited (ASX:BRI) shareholders should be happy to see the share price up 11% in the last month. But that doesn't change the fact that the returns over the last three years have been less than pleasing. Truth be told the share price declined 34% in three years and that return, Dear Reader, falls short of what you could have got from passive investing with an index fund.
While markets are a powerful pricing mechanism, share prices reflect investor sentiment, not just underlying business performance. One imperfect but simple way to consider how the market perception of a company has shifted is to compare the change in the earnings per share (EPS) with the share price movement.
During the three years that the share price fell, Big River Industries' earnings per share (EPS) dropped by 20% each year. This fall in the EPS is worse than the 13% compound annual share price fall. This suggests that the market retains some optimism around long term earnings stability, despite past EPS declines.
The image below shows how EPS has tracked over time (if you click on the image you can see greater detail).
Before buying or selling a stock, we always recommend a close examination of historic growth trends, available here.
What About Dividends?
As well as measuring the share price return, investors should also consider the total shareholder return (TSR). Whereas the share price return only reflects the change in the share price, the TSR includes the value of dividends (assuming they were reinvested) and the benefit of any discounted capital raising or spin-off. It's fair to say that the TSR gives a more complete picture for stocks that pay a dividend. In the case of Big River Industries, it has a TSR of -28% for the last 3 years. That exceeds its share price return that we previously mentioned. And there's no prize for guessing that the dividend payments largely explain the divergence!
A Different Perspective
Over the last year, Big River Industries shareholders took a loss of 11%, including dividends. In contrast the market gained about 4.2%. However, keep in mind that even the best stocks will sometimes underperform the market over a twelve month period. Shareholders have lost 9% per year over the last three years, so the share price drop has become steeper, over the last year; a potential symptom of as yet unsolved challenges. We would be wary of buying into a company with unsolved problems, although some investors will buy into struggling stocks if they believe the price is sufficiently attractive. It's always interesting to track share price performance over the longer term. But to understand Big River Industries better, we need to consider many other factors. Take risks, for example - Big River Industries has 2 warning signs we think you should be aware of.
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 AU exchanges.
This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. 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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