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It is doubtless a positive to see that the International Personal Finance plc (LON:IPF) share price has gained some 56% in the last three months. But spare a thought for the long term holders, who have held the stock as it bled value over the last five years. Five years have seen the share price descend precipitously, down a full 83%. While the recent increase might be a green shoot, we're certainly hesitant to rejoice. The important question is if the business itself justifies a higher share price in the long term.
We really hope anyone holding through that price crash has a diversified portfolio. Even when you lose money, you don't have to lose the lesson.
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 unfortunate half decade during which the share price slipped, International Personal Finance actually saw its earnings per share (EPS) improve by 1.3% per year. Given the share price reaction, one might suspect that EPS is not a good guide to the business performance during the period (perhaps due to a one-off loss or gain). Or possibly, the market was previously very optimistic, so the stock has disappointed, despite improving EPS.
Based on these numbers, we'd venture that the market may have been over-optimistic about forecast growth, half a decade ago. Looking to other metrics might better explain the share price change.
In contrast to the share price, revenue has actually increased by 4.2% a year in the five year 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.
The company's revenue and earnings (over time) are depicted in the image below (click to see the exact numbers).
We like that insiders have been buying shares in the last twelve months. Having said that, most people consider earnings and revenue growth trends to be a more meaningful guide to the business. If you are thinking of buying or selling International Personal Finance stock, you should check out this free report showing analyst profit forecasts.
What about the Total Shareholder Return (TSR)?
We'd be remiss not to mention the difference between International Personal Finance's total shareholder return (TSR) and its share price return. The TSR is a return calculation that accounts for the value of cash dividends (assuming that any dividend received was reinvested) and the calculated value of any discounted capital raisings and spin-offs. Its history of dividend payouts mean that International Personal Finance's TSR, which was a 78% drop over the last 5 years, was not as bad as the share price return.
A Different Perspective
While the broader market lost about 7.0% in the twelve months, International Personal Finance shareholders did even worse, losing 23%. However, it could simply be that the share price has been impacted by broader market jitters. It might be worth keeping an eye on the fundamentals, in case there's a good opportunity. However, the loss over the last year isn't as bad as the 12% per annum loss investors have suffered over the last half decade. We would want clear information suggesting the company will grow, before taking the view that the share price will stabilize. 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. Case in point: We've spotted 2 warning signs for International Personal Finance you should be aware of, and 1 of them makes us a bit uncomfortable.
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 GB exchanges.
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. 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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