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Did You Manage To Avoid AutoNation's (NYSE:AN) 32% Share Price Drop?

Simply Wall St

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The main aim of stock picking is to find the market-beating stocks. But in any portfolio, there will be mixed results between individual stocks. At this point some shareholders may be questioning their investment in AutoNation, Inc. (NYSE:AN), since the last five years saw the share price fall 32%. And we doubt long term believers are the only worried holders, since the stock price has declined 23% over the last twelve months.

See our latest analysis for AutoNation

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 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.

During the unfortunate half decade during which the share price slipped, AutoNation actually saw its earnings per share (EPS) improve by 7.0% 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). Alternatively, growth expectations may have been unreasonable in the past. Because of the sharp contrast between the EPS growth rate and the share price growth, we're inclined to look to other metrics to understand the changing market sentiment around the stock.

Revenue is actually up 4.0% over the time period. So it seems one might have to take closer look at the fundamentals to understand why the share price languishes. After all, there may be an opportunity.

You can see how revenue and earnings have changed over time in the image below, (click on the chart to see cashflow).

NYSE:AN Income Statement, April 8th 2019

AutoNation is a well known stock, with plenty of analyst coverage, suggesting some visibility into future growth. If you are thinking of buying or selling AutoNation stock, you should check out this free report showing analyst consensus estimates for future profits.

A Different Perspective

While the broader market gained around 12% in the last year, AutoNation shareholders lost 23%. 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 7.4% over the last half decade. 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. If you would like to research AutoNation in more detail then you might want to take a look at whether insiders have been buying or selling shares in the company.

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.