In order to justify the effort of selecting individual stocks, it's worth striving to beat the returns from a market index fund. But every investor is virtually certain to have both over-performing and under-performing stocks. At this point some shareholders may be questioning their investment in Overseas Chinese Town (Asia) Holdings Limited (HKG:3366), since the last five years saw the share price fall 21%. Unhappily, the share price slid 2.5% in the last week.
There is no denying that markets are sometimes efficient, but prices do not always reflect underlying business performance. 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 unfortunate half decade during which the share price slipped, Overseas Chinese Town (Asia) Holdings actually saw its earnings per share (EPS) improve by 12% 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.
Generally speaking we'd expect to see stronger share price increases on the back of sustained EPS growth, but other metrics may hold a clue to why the share price performance is relatively modest.
The steady dividend doesn't really explain why the share price is down. However, revenue has declined at a compound annual rate of 14% per year. With dividends up, but revenue down, some investors might be concluding that the company is no longer growing.
The graphic below depicts how earnings and revenue have changed over time (unveil the exact values by clicking on the image).
We like that insiders have been buying shares in the last twelve months. Having said that, most people consider earnings and revenue growth trends to be a more meaningful guide to the business. Before buying or selling a stock, we always recommend a close examination of historic growth trends, available here..
What About Dividends?
As well as measuring the share price return, investors should also consider the total shareholder return (TSR). The TSR incorporates the value of any spin-offs or discounted capital raisings, along with any dividends, based on the assumption that the dividends are reinvested. It's fair to say that the TSR gives a more complete picture for stocks that pay a dividend. As it happens, Overseas Chinese Town (Asia) Holdings's TSR for the last 5 years was 8.9%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. And there's no prize for guessing that the dividend payments largely explain the divergence!
A Different Perspective
Although it hurts that Overseas Chinese Town (Asia) Holdings returned a loss of 1.2% in the last twelve months, the broader market was actually worse, returning a loss of 2.5%. Longer term investors wouldn't be so upset, since they would have made 1.7%, each year, over five years. In the best case scenario the last year is just a temporary blip on the journey to a brighter future. 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 Overseas Chinese Town (Asia) Holdings by clicking this link.
Overseas Chinese Town (Asia) Holdings 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 HK exchanges.
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.
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