We're definitely into long term investing, but some companies are simply bad investments over any time frame. We don't wish catastrophic capital loss on anyone. For example, we sympathize with anyone who was caught holding Laura Ashley Holdings plc (LON:ALY) during the five years that saw its share price drop a whopping 90%. And we doubt long term believers are the only worried holders, since the stock price has declined 39% over the last twelve months. On top of that, the share price has dropped a further 27% in a month.
We really hope anyone holding through that price crash has a diversified portfolio. Even when you lose money, you don't have to lose the lesson.
In his essay The Superinvestors of Graham-and-Doddsville Warren Buffett described how share prices do not always rationally reflect the value of a business. 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.
In the last half decade Laura Ashley Holdings saw its share price fall as its EPS declined below zero. Since the company has fallen to a loss making position, it's hard to compare the change in EPS with the share price change. However, we can say we'd expect to see a falling share price in this scenario.
You can see below how EPS has changed over time (discover the exact values by clicking on the image).
It might be well worthwhile taking a look at our free report on Laura Ashley Holdings's earnings, revenue and cash flow.
A Dividend Lost
It's important to keep in mind that we've been talking about the share price returns, which don't include dividends, while the total shareholder return does. By accounting for the value of dividends paid, the TSR can be seen as a more complete measure of the value a company brings to its shareholders. Over the last 5 years, Laura Ashley Holdings generated a TSR of -88%, which is, of course, better than the share price return. Although the company had to cut dividends, it has paid cash to shareholders in the past.
A Different Perspective
While the broader market gained around 7.2% in the last year, Laura Ashley Holdings shareholders lost 39%. 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 35% 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. Shareholders might want to examine this detailed historical graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow.
If you like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).
Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on GB 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 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. Thank you for reading.