This week we saw the Houston Wire & Cable Company (NASDAQ:HWCC) share price climb by 10%. But that doesn’t change the fact that the returns over the last half decade have been disappointing. The share price has failed to impress anyone , down a sizable 55% during that time. So we’re hesitant to put much weight behind the short term increase. Of course, this could be the start of a turnaround.
While the efficient markets hypothesis continues to be taught by some, it has been proven that markets are over-reactive dynamic systems, and investors are not always rational. 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 five years of share price growth, Houston Wire & Cable moved from a loss to profitability. Most would consider that to be a good thing, so it’s counter-intuitive to see the share price declining. Other metrics may better explain the share price move.
Arguably, the revenue drop of 4.4% a year for half a decade suggests that the company can’t grow in the long term. That could explain the weak share price.
You can see how revenue and earnings have changed over time in the image below, (click on the chart to see cashflow).
We like that insiders have been buying shares in the last twelve months. Even so, future earnings will be far more important to whether current shareholders make money. This free interactive report on Houston Wire & Cable’s earnings, revenue and cash flow is a great place to start, if you want to investigate the stock further.
A Dividend Lost
It’s important to keep in mind that we’ve been talking about the share price returns, which don’t include dividends, while the total shareholder return does. In some ways, TSR is a better measure of how well an investment has performed. Over the last 5 years, Houston Wire & Cable generated a TSR of -50%, which is, of course, better than the share price return. Although the company had to cut dividends, it has paid cash to shareholders in the past.
A Different Perspective
Houston Wire & Cable shareholders are down 15% for the year, but the market itself is up 3.9%. 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 13% 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. It is all well and good that insiders have been buying shares, but we suggest you check here to see what price insiders were buying at.
If you like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).
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 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.