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The past three years for Great Ajax (NYSE:AJX) investors has not been profitable

·3 min read

In order to justify the effort of selecting individual stocks, it's worth striving to beat the returns from a market index fund. But in any portfolio, there are likely to be some stocks that fall short of that benchmark. We regret to report that long term Great Ajax Corp. (NYSE:AJX) shareholders have had that experience, with the share price dropping 39% in three years, versus a market return of about 41%. The more recent news is of little comfort, with the share price down 33% in a year. The falls have accelerated recently, with the share price down 15% in the last three months.

With that in mind, it's worth seeing if the company's underlying fundamentals have been the driver of long term performance, or if there are some discrepancies.

Check out our latest analysis for Great Ajax

There is no denying that markets are sometimes efficient, but prices do not always reflect underlying business performance. 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 three years that the share price fell, Great Ajax's earnings per share (EPS) dropped by 34% each year. This fall in the EPS is worse than the 15% compound annual share price fall. So, despite the prior disappointment, shareholders must have some confidence the situation will improve, longer term.

You can see below how EPS has changed over time (discover the exact values by clicking on the image).

earnings-per-share-growth
earnings-per-share-growth

We're pleased to report that the CEO is remunerated more modestly than most CEOs at similarly capitalized companies. But while CEO remuneration is always worth checking, the really important question is whether the company can grow earnings going forward. It might be well worthwhile taking a look at our free report on Great Ajax's earnings, revenue and cash flow.

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. In the case of Great Ajax, it has a TSR of -23% for the last 3 years. That exceeds its share price return that we previously mentioned. And there's no prize for guessing that the dividend payments largely explain the divergence!

A Different Perspective

While the broader market lost about 14% in the twelve months, Great Ajax shareholders did even worse, losing 26% (even including dividends). Having said that, it's inevitable that some stocks will be oversold in a falling market. The key is to keep your eyes on the fundamental developments. On the bright side, long term shareholders have made money, with a gain of 0.4% per year over half a decade. It could be that the recent sell-off is an opportunity, so it may be worth checking the fundamental data for signs of a long term growth trend. 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. To that end, you should learn about the 3 warning signs we've spotted with Great Ajax (including 2 which are a bit unpleasant) .

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 US exchanges.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.

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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