In order to justify the effort of selecting individual stocks, it's worth striving to beat the returns from a market index fund. But the risk of stock picking is that you will likely buy under-performing companies. We regret to report that long term Dah Sing Financial Holdings Limited (HKG:440) shareholders have had that experience, with the share price dropping 45% in three years, versus a market return of about 15%. And over the last year the share price fell 36%, so we doubt many shareholders are delighted. Shareholders have had an even rougher run lately, with the share price down 19% in the last 90 days.
To paraphrase Benjamin Graham: Over the short term the market is a voting machine, but over the long term it's a weighing machine. 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).
During the unfortunate three years of share price decline, Dah Sing Financial Holdings actually saw its earnings per share (EPS) improve by 14% per year. Given the share price reaction, one might suspect that EPS is not a good guide to the business performance during the period (perhaps due to a one-off loss or gain). Or else the company was over-hyped in the past, and so its growth has disappointed.
It's worth taking a look at other metrics, because the EPS growth doesn't seem to match with the falling share price.
We note that the dividend seems healthy enough, so that probably doesn't explain the share price drop. We like that Dah Sing Financial Holdings has actually grown its revenue over the last three years. But it's not clear to us why the share price is down. It might be worth diving deeper into the fundamentals, lest an opportunity goes begging.
The image below shows how earnings and revenue have tracked over time (if you click on the image you can see greater detail).
We know that Dah Sing Financial Holdings has improved its bottom line lately, but what does the future have in store? This free report showing analyst forecasts should help you form a view on Dah Sing Financial Holdings
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. Arguably, the TSR gives a more comprehensive picture of the return generated by a stock. In the case of Dah Sing Financial Holdings, it has a TSR of -33% 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
Dah Sing Financial Holdings shareholders are down 33% for the year (even including dividends) , but the market itself is up 2.1%. However, keep in mind that even the best stocks will sometimes underperform the market over a twelve month period. Regrettably, last year's performance caps off a bad run, with the shareholders facing a total loss of 4.5% per year over five years. We realise that Buffett 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 businesses. Keeping this in mind, a solid next step might be to take a look at Dah Sing Financial Holdings's dividend track record. This free interactive graph is a great place to start.
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 HK exchanges.
We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.
If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.