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Some Oil-Dri of America (NYSE:ODC) Shareholders Are Down 19%

Simply Wall St

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Oil-Dri Corporation of America (NYSE:ODC) shareholders should be happy to see the share price up 13% in the last month. But in truth the last year hasn't been good for the share price. In fact the stock is down 19% in the last year, well below the market return.

View our latest analysis for Oil-Dri of America

In his essay The Superinvestors of Graham-and-Doddsville Warren Buffett described how share prices do not always rationally reflect the value of a business. 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 twelve months during which the Oil-Dri of America share price fell, it actually saw its earnings per share (EPS) improve by 65%. It's quite possible that growth expectations may have been unreasonable in the past. It's surprising to see the share price fall so much, despite the improved EPS. But we might find some different metrics explain the share price movements better.

Revenue was fairly steady year on year, which isn't usually such a bad thing. But the share price might be lower because the market expected a meaningful improvement, and got none.

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:ODC Income Statement, June 30th 2019

We consider it positive that insiders have made significant purchases in the last year. Even so, future earnings will be far more important to whether current shareholders make money. Dive deeper into the earnings by checking this interactive graph of Oil-Dri of America's earnings, revenue and cash flow.

What About Dividends?

It is important to consider the total shareholder return, as well as the share price return, for any given stock. Whereas the share price return only reflects the change in the share price, the TSR includes the value of dividends (assuming they were reinvested) and the benefit of any discounted capital raising or spin-off. Arguably, the TSR gives a more comprehensive picture of the return generated by a stock. In the case of Oil-Dri of America, it has a TSR of -17% for the last year. That exceeds its share price return that we previously mentioned. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.

A Different Perspective

Oil-Dri of America shareholders are down 17% for the year (even including dividends), but the market itself is up 7.8%. 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 4.6% 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. If you want to research this stock further, the data on insider buying is an obvious place to start. You can click here to see who has been buying shares - and the price they paid.

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.

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.