U.S. Markets closed

The Oil Search (ASX:OSH) Share Price Is Down 28% So Some Shareholders Are Getting Worried

Simply Wall St

Want to participate in a short research study? Help shape the future of investing tools and you could win a $250 gift card!

For many, the main point of investing is to generate higher returns than the overall market. But the main game is to find enough winners to more than offset the losers At this point some shareholders may be questioning their investment in Oil Search Limited (ASX:OSH), since the last five years saw the share price fall 28%. Shareholders have had an even rougher run lately, with the share price down 11% in the last 90 days.

See our latest analysis for Oil Search

There is no denying that markets are sometimes efficient, but prices do not always reflect 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.

Oil Search became profitable within the last five years. That would generally be considered a positive, so we are surprised to see the share price is down. Other metrics may better explain the share price move.

Revenue is actually up 3.6% over the time period. A more detailed examination of the revenue and earnings may or may not explain why the share price languishes; there could be an opportunity.

You can see below how earnings and revenue have changed over time (discover the exact values by clicking on the image).

ASX:OSH Income Statement, July 1st 2019

Oil Search is well known by investors, and plenty of clever analysts have tried to predict the future profit levels. So we recommend checking out this free report showing consensus forecasts

What About Dividends?

When looking at investment returns, it is important to consider the difference between total shareholder return (TSR) and share price return. 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. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. As it happens, Oil Search's TSR for the last 5 years was -22%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!

A Different Perspective

Oil Search shareholders are down 19% for the year (even including dividends), but the market itself is up 11%. 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. Unfortunately, last year's performance may indicate unresolved challenges, given that it was worse than the annualised loss of 4.7% 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. Before spending more time on Oil Search it might be wise to click here to see if insiders have been buying or selling shares.

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 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 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.