Generally speaking long term investing is the way to go. But unfortunately, some companies simply don't succeed. Zooming in on an example, the Core Laboratories N.V. (NYSE:CLB) share price dropped 67% in the last half decade. That's not a lot of fun for true believers. And some of the more recent buyers are probably worried, too, with the stock falling 48% in the last year.
To paraphrase Benjamin Graham: Over the short term the market is a voting machine, but over the long term it's a weighing machine. By comparing earnings per share (EPS) and share price changes over time, we can get a feel for how investor attitudes to a company have morphed over time.
During the five years over which the share price declined, Core Laboratories's earnings per share (EPS) dropped by 18% each year. This change in EPS is reasonably close to the 20% average annual decrease in the share price. This suggests that market participants have not changed their view of the company all that much. Rather, the share price change has reflected changes in earnings per share.
You can see how EPS has changed over time in the image below (click on the chart to see the exact values).
It's probably worth noting we've seen significant insider buying in the last quarter, which we consider 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 Core Laboratories'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. 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 and spin-offs. It's fair to say that the TSR gives a more complete picture for stocks that pay a dividend. We note that for Core Laboratories the TSR over the last 5 years was -63%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.
A Different Perspective
Core Laboratories shareholders are down 46% for the year (even including dividends) , but the market itself is up 13%. Even the share prices of good stocks drop sometimes, but we want to see improvements in the fundamental metrics of a business, before getting too interested. Regrettably, last year's performance caps off a bad run, with the shareholders facing a total loss of 18% 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 Core Laboratories by clicking this link.
Core Laboratories 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 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.