Investors can approximate the average market return by buying an index fund. Active investors aim to buy stocks that vastly outperform the market - but in the process, they risk under-performance. Investors in PageGroup plc (LON:PAGE) have tasted that bitter downside in the last year, as the share price dropped 31%. That falls noticeably short of the market decline of around 6.2%. Longer term investors have fared much better, since the share price is up 4.6% in three years.
Now let's have a look at the company's fundamentals, and see if the long term shareholder return has matched the performance of the underlying business.
To quote Buffett, 'Ships will sail around the world but the Flat Earth Society will flourish. There will continue to be wide discrepancies between price and value in the marketplace...' 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 unfortunate twelve months during which the PageGroup share price fell, it actually saw its earnings per share (EPS) improve by 367%. It's quite possible that growth expectations may have been unreasonable in the past.
The divergence between the EPS and the share price is quite notable, during the year. So it's well worth checking out some other metrics, too.
We don't see any weakness in the PageGroup's dividend so the steady payout can't really explain the share price drop. From what we can see, revenue is pretty flat, so that doesn't really explain the share price drop. Unless, of course, the market was expecting a revenue uptick.
The graphic below depicts how earnings and revenue have changed over time (unveil the exact values by clicking on the image).
PageGroup 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. 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. It's fair to say that the TSR gives a more complete picture for stocks that pay a dividend. In the case of PageGroup, it has a TSR of -26% for the last 1 year. That exceeds its share price return that we previously mentioned. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.
A Different Perspective
While the broader market lost about 6.2% in the twelve months, PageGroup 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 1.2% per year over half a decade. If the fundamental data continues to indicate long term sustainable growth, the current sell-off could be an opportunity worth considering. 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 2 warning signs for PageGroup (1 can't be ignored) that you should be aware of.
For those who like to find winning investments this free list of growing companies with recent insider purchasing, could be just the ticket.
Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on GB 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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