For many, the main point of investing is to generate higher returns than the overall market. But in any portfolio, there will be mixed results between individual stocks. So we wouldn't blame long term CF Industries Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:CF) shareholders for doubting their decision to hold, with the stock down 41% over a half decade. And it's not just long term holders hurting, because the stock is down 40% in the last year. Shareholders have had an even rougher run lately, with the share price down 12% in the last 90 days.
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...' One flawed but reasonable way to assess how sentiment around a company has changed is to compare the earnings per share (EPS) with the share price.
CF Industries Holdings became profitable within the last five years. That would generally be considered a positive, so we are surprised to see the share price is down. Other metrics might give us a better handle on how its value is changing over time.
We note that the dividend has remained healthy, so that wouldn't really explain the share price drop. While it's not completely obvious why the share price is down, a closer look at the company's history might help explain it.
The company's revenue and earnings (over time) are depicted in the image below (click to see the exact numbers).
CF Industries Holdings is well known by investors, and plenty of clever analysts have tried to predict the future profit levels. Given we have quite a good number of analyst forecasts, it might be well worth checking out this free chart depicting consensus estimates.
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. As it happens, CF Industries Holdings' TSR for the last 5 years was -30%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!
A Different Perspective
Investors in CF Industries Holdings had a tough year, with a total loss of 38% (including dividends), against a market gain of about 13%. Even the share prices of good stocks drop sometimes, but we want to see improvements in the fundamental metrics of a business, before getting too interested. Unfortunately, last year's performance may indicate unresolved challenges, given that it was worse than the annualised loss of 5% over the last half decade. We realise that Baron Rothschild has said investors should "buy when there is blood on the streets", but we caution that investors should first be sure they are buying a high quality business. 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. Consider for instance, the ever-present spectre of investment risk. We've identified 2 warning signs with CF Industries Holdings , and understanding them should be part of your investment process.
We will like CF Industries Holdings better if we see some big insider buys. While we wait, check out this free list of growing companies with considerable, recent, insider buying.
Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on US 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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