While not a mind-blowing move, it is good to see that the Murphy Oil Corporation (NYSE:MUR) share price has gained 24% in the last three months. But that doesn't change the fact that the returns over the last five years have been less than pleasing. You would have done a lot better buying an index fund, since the stock has dropped 47% in that half decade.
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 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.
Murphy Oil became profitable within the last five years. Most would consider that to be a good thing, so it's counter-intuitive to see the share price declining. Other metrics might give us a better handle on how its value is changing over time.
The most recent dividend was actually lower than it was in the past, so that may have sent the share price lower. The revenue decline of about 15% per year might also encourage sellers.
The image below shows how earnings and revenue have tracked over time (if you click on the image you can see greater detail).
Murphy Oil is a well known stock, with plenty of analyst coverage, suggesting some visibility into future growth. So we recommend checking out this free report showing consensus forecasts
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, Murphy Oil's TSR for the last 5 years was -35%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!
A Different Perspective
Investors in Murphy Oil had a tough year, with a total loss of 19% (including dividends) , against a market gain of about 17%. 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. Regrettably, last year's performance caps off a bad run, with the shareholders facing a total loss of 8.3% 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. Most investors take the time to check the data on insider transactions. You can click here to see if insiders have been buying or selling.
Of course Murphy Oil may not be the best stock to buy. So you may wish to see this free collection of growth stocks.
Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on US exchanges.
If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at email@example.com. 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.
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