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The main point of investing for the long term is to make money. Furthermore, you'd generally like to see the share price rise faster than the market. But ONE Gas, Inc. (NYSE:OGS) has fallen short of that second goal, with a share price rise of 18% over five years, which is below the market return. The last year has been disappointing, with the stock price down 2.0% in that time.
So let's assess the underlying fundamentals over the last 5 years and see if they've moved in lock-step with shareholder returns.
While the efficient markets hypothesis continues to be taught by some, it has been proven that markets are over-reactive dynamic systems, and investors are not always rational. 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.
Over half a decade, ONE Gas managed to grow its earnings per share at 8.9% a year. The EPS growth is more impressive than the yearly share price gain of 3% over the same period. So one could conclude that the broader market has become more cautious towards the stock.
The company's earnings per share (over time) is depicted in the image below (click to see the exact numbers).
It's probably worth noting that the CEO is paid less than the median at similar sized companies. It's always worth keeping an eye on CEO pay, but a more important question is whether the company will grow earnings throughout the years. This free interactive report on ONE Gas' earnings, revenue and cash flow is a great place to start, if you want to investigate the stock further.
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. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. As it happens, ONE Gas' TSR for the last 5 years was 34%, 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
ONE Gas shareholders are up 1.1% for the year (even including dividends). But that was short of the market average. It's probably a good sign that the company has an even better long term track record, having provided shareholders with an annual TSR of 6% over five years. It's quite possible the business continues to execute with prowess, even as the share price gains are slowing. While it is well worth considering the different impacts that market conditions can have on the share price, there are other factors that are even more important. For instance, we've identified 3 warning signs for ONE Gas (2 are concerning) that you should be aware of.
Of course ONE Gas may not be the best stock to buy. So you may wish to see this free collection of growth stocks.
Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on US exchanges.
This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.
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