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Despite lower earnings than three years ago, Seplat Energy (LON:SEPL) investors are up 17% since then

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·3 min read
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Investors are understandably disappointed when a stock they own declines in value. But it's hard to avoid some disappointing investments when the overall market is down. While the Seplat Energy Plc (LON:SEPL) share price is down 14% in the last three years, the total return to shareholders (which includes dividends) was 17%. And that total return actually beats the market decline of 4.7%. It's down 15% in about a month.

If the past week is anything to go by, investor sentiment for Seplat Energy isn't positive, so let's see if there's a mismatch between fundamentals and the share price.

View our latest analysis for Seplat Energy

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 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.

Seplat Energy saw its EPS decline at a compound rate of 9.0% per year, over the last three years. This fall in the EPS is worse than the 5% compound annual share price fall. So, despite the prior disappointment, shareholders must have some confidence the situation will improve, longer term.

You can see how EPS has changed over time in the image below (click on the chart to see the exact values).

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

It's good to see that there was some significant insider buying in the last three months. That's a positive. On the other hand, we think the revenue and earnings trends are much more meaningful measures of the business. This free interactive report on Seplat Energy's earnings, revenue and cash flow is a great place to start, if you want to investigate the stock further.

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 incorporates the value of any spin-offs or discounted capital raisings, along with any dividends, based on the assumption that the dividends are reinvested. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. In the case of Seplat Energy, it has a TSR of 17% 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

It's good to see that Seplat Energy has rewarded shareholders with a total shareholder return of 18% in the last twelve months. That's including the dividend. That gain is better than the annual TSR over five years, which is 7%. Therefore it seems like sentiment around the company has been positive lately. Someone with an optimistic perspective could view the recent improvement in TSR as indicating that the business itself is getting better with time. It's always interesting to track share price performance over the longer term. But to understand Seplat Energy better, we need to consider many other factors. Even so, be aware that Seplat Energy is showing 2 warning signs in our investment analysis , you should know about...

Seplat Energy is not the only stock that insiders are buying. 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 GB 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.