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The Lazard (NYSE:LAZ) Share Price Is Down 26% So Some Shareholders Are Getting Worried

Simply Wall St

Ideally, your overall portfolio should beat the market average. But in any portfolio, there will be mixed results between individual stocks. At this point some shareholders may be questioning their investment in Lazard Ltd (NYSE:LAZ), since the last five years saw the share price fall 26%. Unhappily, the share price slid 2.2% in the last week.

See our latest analysis for Lazard

To paraphrase Benjamin Graham: Over the short term the market is a voting machine, but over the long term it's a weighing machine. One way to examine how market sentiment has changed over time is to look at the interaction between a company's share price and its earnings per share (EPS).

During the unfortunate half decade during which the share price slipped, Lazard actually saw its earnings per share (EPS) improve by 2.5% 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. Looking to other metrics might better explain the share price change.

The steady dividend doesn't really explain why the share price is down. 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 earnings and revenue have changed over time in the image below (click on the chart to see the exact values).

NYSE:LAZ Income Statement, November 19th 2019

This free interactive report on Lazard's balance sheet strength is a great place to start, if you want to investigate the stock further.

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. Arguably, the TSR gives a more comprehensive picture of the return generated by a stock. As it happens, Lazard's TSR for the last 5 years was 1.4%, 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

Lazard shareholders are up 4.9% for the year (even including dividends) . But that return falls short of the market. On the bright side, that's still a gain, and it's actually better than the average return of 0.3% over half a decade This could indicate that the company is winning over new investors, as it pursues its strategy. If you would like to research Lazard in more detail then you might want to take a look at whether insiders have been buying or selling shares in the company.

But note: Lazard may not be the best stock to buy. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with past earnings growth (and further growth forecast).

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.