Buying a low-cost index fund will get you the average market return. But across the board there are plenty of stocks that underperform the market. That's what has happened with the Issuer Direct Corporation (NYSEMKT:ISDR) share price. It's up 32% over three years, but that is below the market return. Zooming in, the stock is actually down 2.4% in the last year.
While markets are a powerful pricing mechanism, share prices reflect investor sentiment, not just 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.
Over the last three years, Issuer Direct failed to grow earnings per share, which fell 13% (annualized).
Thus, it seems unlikely that the market is focussed on EPS growth at the moment. Since the change in EPS doesn't seem to correlate with the change in share price, it's worth taking a look at other metrics.
It may well be that Issuer Direct revenue growth rate of 11% over three years has convinced shareholders to believe in a brighter future. If the company is being managed for the long term good, today's shareholders might be right to hold on.
You can see how earnings and revenue have changed over time in the image below (click on the chart to see the exact values).
It's probably worth noting that the CEO is paid less than the median at similar sized companies. But while CEO remuneration is always worth checking, the really important question is whether the company can grow earnings going forward. You can see what analysts are predicting for Issuer Direct in this interactive graph of future profit estimates.
What about the Total Shareholder Return (TSR)?
We'd be remiss not to mention the difference between Issuer Direct's total shareholder return (TSR) and its share price return. The TSR attempts to capture the value of dividends (as if they were reinvested) as well as any spin-offs or discounted capital raisings offered to shareholders. Its history of dividend payouts mean that Issuer Direct's TSR of 35% over the last 3 years is better than the share price return.
A Different Perspective
Issuer Direct shareholders are down 2.4% for the year, but the market itself is up 30%. 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. Longer term investors wouldn't be so upset, since they would have made 5.7%, each year, over five years. If the fundamental data continues to indicate long term sustainable growth, the current sell-off could be an opportunity worth considering. If you would like to research Issuer Direct in more detail then you might want to take a look at whether insiders have been buying or selling shares in the company.
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.
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.
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