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When you buy and hold a stock for the long term, you definitely want it to provide a positive return. Better yet, you'd like to see the share price move up more than the market average. Unfortunately for shareholders, while the ONEOK, Inc. (NYSE:OKE) share price is up 82% in the last five years, that's less than the market return. However, if you include the dividends then the return is market beating. Zooming in, the stock is actually down 47% in the last year.
To paraphrase Benjamin Graham: Over the short term the market is a voting machine, but over the long term it's a weighing machine. 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.
ONEOK's earnings per share are down 0.5% per year, despite strong share price performance over five years.
So it's hard to argue that the earnings per share are the best metric to judge the company, as it may not be optimized for profits at this point. Therefore, it's worth taking a look at other metrics to try to understand the share price movements.
We note that the dividend is higher than it was previously - always nice to see. It could be that the company is reaching maturity and dividend investors are buying for the yield. We'd posit that the revenue growth over the last five years, of 4.5% per year, would encourage people to invest.
The graphic below depicts how earnings and revenue have changed over time (unveil the exact values by clicking on the image).
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. You can see what analysts are predicting for ONEOK in this interactive graph of future profit estimates.
What About Dividends?
As well as measuring the share price return, investors should also consider the total shareholder return (TSR). The TSR incorporates the value of any spin-offs or discounted capital raisings, along with any dividends, based on the assumption that the dividends are reinvested. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. As it happens, ONEOK's TSR for the last 5 years was 154%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.
A Different Perspective
ONEOK shareholders are down 41% for the year (even including dividends), but the market itself is up 26%. However, keep in mind that even the best stocks will sometimes underperform the market over a twelve month period. Longer term investors wouldn't be so upset, since they would have made 20%, each year, over five years. If the fundamental data continues to indicate long term sustainable growth, the current sell-off could be an opportunity worth considering. I find it very interesting to look at share price over the long term as a proxy for business performance. But to truly gain insight, we need to consider other information, too. For instance, we've identified 6 warning signs for ONEOK (2 don't sit too well with us) that you should be aware of.
ONEOK is not the only stock insiders are buying. So take a peek at this free list of growing companies with insider buying.
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. 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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