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Investors Who Bought RLJ Lodging Trust (NYSE:RLJ) Shares Five Years Ago Are Now Down 29%

Simply Wall St

The main aim of stock picking is to find the market-beating stocks. But even the best stock picker will only win with some selections. At this point some shareholders may be questioning their investment in RLJ Lodging Trust (NYSE:RLJ), since the last five years saw the share price fall 29%. The silver lining is that the stock is up 1.3% in about a week.

Check out our latest analysis for RLJ Lodging Trust

To quote Buffett, 'Ships will sail around the world but the Flat Earth Society will flourish. There will continue to be wide discrepancies between price and value in the marketplace...' 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.

While the share price declined over five years, RLJ Lodging Trust actually managed to increase EPS by an average of 1.0% 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. By glancing at these numbers, we'd posit that the the market had expectations of much higher growth, five years ago. Having said that, we might get a better idea of what's going on with the stock by looking at other metrics.

We note that the dividend has remained healthy, so that wouldn't really explain the share price drop. While it's not completely obvious why the share price is down, a closer look at the company's history might help explain it.

You can see how revenue and earnings have changed over time in the image below, (click on the chart to see cashflow).

NYSE:RLJ Income Statement, April 11th 2019

We know that RLJ Lodging Trust has improved its bottom line lately, but what does the future have in store? This free report showing analyst forecasts should help you form a view on RLJ Lodging Trust

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 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. We note that for RLJ Lodging Trust the TSR over the last 5 years was -5.4%, 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

Investors in RLJ Lodging Trust had a tough year, with a total loss of 2.8% (including dividends), against a market gain of about 9.5%. 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 1.1% 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 RLJ Lodging Trust's dividend track record. This free interactive graph is a great place to start.

Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking elsewhere. So take a peek at this free list of companies we expect will grow earnings.

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 editorial-team@simplywallst.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.