While Metro Mining Limited (ASX:MMI) shareholders are probably generally happy, the stock hasn't had particularly good run recently, with the share price falling 15% in the last quarter. But that doesn't change the fact that the returns over the last five years have been very strong. We think most investors would be happy with the 229% return, over that period. We think it's more important to dwell on the long term returns than the short term returns. The more important question is whether the stock is too cheap or too expensive today.
While markets are a powerful pricing mechanism, share prices reflect investor sentiment, not just underlying business performance. One imperfect but simple way to consider how the market perception of a company has shifted is to compare the change in the earnings per share (EPS) with the share price movement.
During the five years of share price growth, Metro Mining moved from a loss to profitability. Sometimes, the start of profitability is a major inflection point that can signal fast earnings growth to come, which in turn justifies very strong share price gains.
You can see below how EPS has changed over time (discover the exact values by clicking on the image).
It is of course excellent to see how Metro Mining has grown profits over the years, but the future is more important for shareholders. Take a more thorough look at Metro Mining's financial health with this free report on its balance sheet.
What about the Total Shareholder Return (TSR)?
We'd be remiss not to mention the difference between Metro Mining'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. We note that Metro Mining's TSR, at 241% is higher than its share price return of 229%. When you consider it hasn't been paying a dividend, this data suggests shareholders have benefitted from a spin-off, or had the opportunity to acquire attractively priced shares in a discounted capital raising.
A Different Perspective
Investors in Metro Mining had a tough year, with a total loss of 43%, against a market gain of about 6.1%. 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. On the bright side, long term shareholders have made money, with a gain of 28% per year over half a decade. If the fundamental data continues to indicate long term sustainable growth, the current sell-off could be an opportunity worth considering. Most investors take the time to check the data on insider transactions. You can click here to see if insiders have been buying or selling.
We will like Metro Mining better if we see some big insider buys. While we wait, check out this free list of growing companies with considerable, recent, insider buying.
Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on AU 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.