In order to justify the effort of selecting individual stocks, it's worth striving to beat the returns from a market index fund. But even the best stock picker will only win with some selections. So we wouldn't blame long term Eutelsat Communications S.A. (EPA:ETL) shareholders for doubting their decision to hold, with the stock down 29% over a half decade. It's up 1.9% in the last seven days.
There is no denying that markets are sometimes efficient, but prices do not always reflect underlying business performance. One flawed but reasonable way to assess how sentiment around a company has changed is to compare the earnings per share (EPS) with the share price.
During the unfortunate half decade during which the share price slipped, Eutelsat Communications actually saw its earnings per share (EPS) improve by 1.2% per year. Given the share price reaction, one might suspect that EPS is not a good guide to the business performance during the period (perhaps due to a one-off loss or gain). Alternatively, growth expectations may have been unreasonable in the past.
Based on these numbers, we'd venture that the market may have been over-optimistic about forecast growth, half a decade ago. Looking to other metrics might better explain the share price change.
We note that the dividend has remained healthy, so that wouldn't really explain the share price drop. It's not immediately clear to us why the stock price is down but further research might provide some answers.
The image below shows how earnings and revenue have tracked over time (if you click on the image you can see greater detail).
Eutelsat Communications is well known by investors, and plenty of clever analysts have tried to predict the future profit levels. If you are thinking of buying or selling Eutelsat Communications stock, you should check out this free report showing analyst consensus estimates for future profits.
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 and spin-offs. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. In the case of Eutelsat Communications, it has a TSR of -6.3% for the last 5 years. That exceeds its share price return that we previously mentioned. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.
A Different Perspective
Eutelsat Communications shareholders are down 12% for the year (even including dividends) , but the market itself is up 13%. However, keep in mind that even the best stocks will sometimes underperform the market over a twelve month period. Unfortunately, last year's performance may indicate unresolved challenges, given that it was worse than the annualised loss of 1.3% over the last half decade. We realise that Buffett 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 businesses. Keeping this in mind, a solid next step might be to take a look at Eutelsat Communications's dividend track record. This free interactive graph is a great place to start.
If you are like me, then you will not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying.
Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on FR 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.