The simplest way to benefit from a rising market is to buy an index fund. Active investors aim to buy stocks that vastly outperform the market - but in the process, they risk under-performance. Unfortunately the Bodycote plc (LON:BOY) share price slid 38% over twelve months. That falls noticeably short of the market return of around -19%. Even if you look out three years, the returns are still disappointing, with the share price down36% in that time. The share price has dropped 44% in three months. Of course, this share price action may well have been influenced by the 26% decline in the broader market, throughout the period.
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.
Unfortunately Bodycote reported an EPS drop of 8.9% for the last year. The share price decline of 38% is actually more than the EPS drop. Unsurprisingly, given the lack of EPS growth, the market seems to be more cautious about the stock. The P/E ratio of 10.73 also points to the negative market sentiment.
You can see how EPS has changed over time in the image below (click on the chart to see the exact values).
This free interactive report on Bodycote's earnings, revenue and cash flow is a great place to start, if you want to investigate the stock further.
What About Dividends?
As well as measuring the share price return, investors should also consider the total shareholder return (TSR). Whereas the share price return only reflects the change in the share price, the TSR includes the value of dividends (assuming they were reinvested) and the benefit of any discounted capital raising or spin-off. Arguably, the TSR gives a more comprehensive picture of the return generated by a stock. We note that for Bodycote the TSR over the last year was -35%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!
A Different Perspective
While the broader market lost about 19% in the twelve months, Bodycote shareholders did even worse, losing 35% (even including dividends) . However, it could simply be that the share price has been impacted by broader market jitters. It might be worth keeping an eye on the fundamentals, in case there's a good opportunity. Regrettably, last year's performance caps off a bad run, with the shareholders facing a total loss of 3.1% per year over five years. We realise that Baron Rothschild 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 business. I find it very interesting to look at share price over the long term as a proxy for business performance. But to truly gain insight, we need to consider other information, too. For instance, we've identified 2 warning signs for Bodycote that you should be aware of.
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 GB exchanges.
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.
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