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Did Changing Sentiment Drive Occidental Petroleum's (NYSE:OXY) Share Price Down A Worrying 51%?

Simply Wall St

For many, the main point of investing is to generate higher returns than the overall market. But even the best stock picker will only win with some selections. At this point some shareholders may be questioning their investment in Occidental Petroleum Corporation (NYSE:OXY), since the last five years saw the share price fall 51%. And we doubt long term believers are the only worried holders, since the stock price has declined 36% over the last twelve months. Shareholders have had an even rougher run lately, with the share price down 19% in the last 90 days.

View our latest analysis for Occidental Petroleum

While markets are a powerful pricing mechanism, share prices reflect investor sentiment, not just underlying business performance. 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.

Occidental Petroleum 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.

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.

You can see below how earnings and revenue have changed over time (discover the exact values by clicking on the image).

NYSE:OXY Income Statement, October 29th 2019

It's good to see that there was some significant insider buying in the last three months. That's a positive. That said, we think earnings and revenue growth trends are even more important factors to consider. So we recommend checking out this free report showing consensus forecasts

What About Dividends?

It is important to consider the total shareholder return, as well as the share price return, for any given stock. 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. It's fair to say that the TSR gives a more complete picture for stocks that pay a dividend. As it happens, Occidental Petroleum's TSR for the last 5 years was -37%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.

A Different Perspective

Investors in Occidental Petroleum had a tough year, with a total loss of 33% (including dividends) , against a market gain of about 16%. However, keep in mind that even the best stocks will sometimes underperform the market over a twelve month period. Unfortunately, last year's performance may indicate unresolved challenges, given that it was worse than the annualised loss of 8.7% over the last half decade. Generally speaking long term share price weakness can be a bad sign, though contrarian investors might want to research the stock in hope of a turnaround. Investors who like to make money usually check up on insider purchases, such as the price paid, and total amount bought. You can find out about the insider purchases of Occidental Petroleum by clicking this link.

Occidental Petroleum 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 US 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 editorial-team@simplywallst.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. Thank you for reading.