Generally speaking the aim of active stock picking is to find companies that provide returns that are superior to the market average. And while active stock picking involves risks (and requires diversification) it can also provide excess returns. For example, the The Hong Kong and China Gas Company Limited (HKG:3) share price is up 80% in the last 5 years, clearly besting than the market return of around 21% (ignoring dividends). On the other hand, the more recent gains haven’t been so impressive, with shareholders gaining just 28%, including dividends.
While markets are a powerful pricing mechanism, share prices reflect investor sentiment, not just underlying business performance. One way to examine how market sentiment has changed over time is to look at the interaction between a company’s share price and its earnings per share (EPS).
During five years of share price growth, Hong Kong and China Gas achieved compound earnings per share (EPS) growth of 3.5% per year. This EPS growth is slower than the share price growth of 12% per year, over the same period. This suggests that market participants hold the company in higher regard, these days. That’s not necessarily surprising considering the five-year track record of earnings growth.
You can see how EPS has changed over time in the image below (click on the chart to see the exact values).
We consider it positive that insiders have made significant purchases in the last year. Even so, future earnings will be far more important to whether current shareholders make money. Before buying or selling a stock, we always recommend a close examination of historic growth trends, available here..
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. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. As it happens, Hong Kong and China Gas’s TSR for the last 5 years was 99%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!
A Different Perspective
We’re pleased to report that Hong Kong and China Gas shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 28% over one year. And that does include the dividend. That gain is better than the annual TSR over five years, which is 15%. Therefore it seems like sentiment around the company has been positive lately. Someone with an optimistic perspective could view the recent improvement in TSR as indicating that the business itself is getting better with time. 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 Hong Kong and China Gas by clicking this link.
Hong Kong and China Gas is not the only stock insiders are buying. So take a peek at this free list of growing companies with insider buying.
Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on HK 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.