For many, the main point of investing is to generate higher returns than the overall market. But the main game is to find enough winners to more than offset the losers So we wouldn't blame long term Compass Minerals International, Inc. (NYSE:CMP) shareholders for doubting their decision to hold, with the stock down 36% over a half decade. It's up 4.4% in the last seven days.
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.
Looking back five years, both Compass Minerals International's share price and EPS declined; the latter at a rate of 14% per year. The share price decline of 8.6% per year isn't as bad as the EPS decline. So investors might expect EPS to bounce back -- or they may have previously foreseen the EPS decline.
The image below shows how EPS has tracked over time (if you click on the image you can see greater detail).
It's good to see that there was some significant insider buying in the last three months. That's a positive. On the other hand, we think the revenue and earnings trends are much more meaningful measures of the business. This free interactive report on Compass Minerals International's earnings, revenue and cash flow 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. 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. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. We note that for Compass Minerals International the TSR over the last 5 years was -22%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. And there's no prize for guessing that the dividend payments largely explain the divergence!
A Different Perspective
While the broader market gained around 5.6% in the last year, Compass Minerals International shareholders lost 13% (even including dividends). 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 4.9% per year over five years. Generally speaking long term share price weakness can be a bad sign, though contrarian investors might want to research the stock in hope of a turnaround. 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 Compass Minerals International by clicking this link.
Compass Minerals International is not the only stock that insiders are buying. 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 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.