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If You Had Bought Great-West Lifeco (TSE:GWO) Stock A Year Ago, You'd Be Sitting On A 13% Loss, Today

Simply Wall St

It's easy to match the overall market return by buying an index fund. While individual stocks can be big winners, plenty more fail to generate satisfactory returns. Investors in Great-West Lifeco Inc. (TSE:GWO) have tasted that bitter downside in the last year, as the share price dropped 13%. That's disappointing when you consider the market returned -1.5%. Longer term shareholders haven't suffered as badly, since the stock is down a comparatively less painful 9.5% in three years. The falls have accelerated recently, with the share price down 10% in the last three months. This could be related to the recent financial results - you can catch up on the most recent data by reading our company report.

See our latest analysis for Great-West Lifeco

There is no denying that markets are sometimes efficient, but prices do not always reflect underlying business performance. 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.

Even though the Great-West Lifeco share price is down over the year, its EPS actually improved. Of course, the situation might betray previous over-optimism about growth. It seems quite likely that the market was expecting higher growth from the stock. But looking to other metrics might better explain the share price change.

Great-West Lifeco's dividend seems healthy to us, so we doubt that the yield is a concern for the market. The revenue trend doesn't seem to explain why the share price is down. Of course, it could simply be that it simply fell short of the market consensus expectations.

The graphic below depicts how earnings and revenue have changed over time (unveil the exact values by clicking on the image).

TSX:GWO Income Statement, August 21st 2019

This free interactive report on Great-West Lifeco's balance sheet strength is a great place to start, if you want to investigate the stock further.

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. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. As it happens, Great-West Lifeco's TSR for the last year was -8.8%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.

A Different Perspective

While the broader market lost about 1.5% in the twelve months, Great-West Lifeco shareholders did even worse, losing 8.8% (even including dividends). Having said that, it's inevitable that some stocks will be oversold in a falling market. The key is to keep your eyes on the fundamental developments. On the bright side, long term shareholders have made money, with a gain of 1.5% per year over half a decade. If the fundamental data continues to indicate long term sustainable growth, the current sell-off could be an opportunity worth considering. 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.

If you are like me, then you will not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying.

Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on CA 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.