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Shareholders in Steel & Tube Holdings (NZSE:STU) are in the red if they invested five years ago

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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 will be mixed results between individual stocks. So we wouldn't blame long term Steel & Tube Holdings Limited (NZSE:STU) shareholders for doubting their decision to hold, with the stock down 52% over a half decade. Shareholders have had an even rougher run lately, with the share price down 18% in the last 90 days. Of course, this share price action may well have been influenced by the 12% decline in the broader market, throughout the period.

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.

See our latest analysis for Steel & Tube Holdings

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...' One way to examine how market sentiment has changed over time is to look at the interaction between a company's share price and its earnings per share (EPS).

Steel & Tube Holdings became profitable within the last five years. Most would consider that to be a good thing, so it's counter-intuitive to see the share price declining. Other metrics might give us a better handle on how its value is changing over time.

The most recent dividend was actually lower than it was in the past, so that may have sent the share price lower. The revenue decline of around 2.2% would not have helped the stock price. So the the weak dividend and revenue data could well help explain the soft share price.

The company's revenue and earnings (over time) are depicted in the image below (click to see the exact numbers).

earnings-and-revenue-growth
earnings-and-revenue-growth

We know that Steel & Tube Holdings has improved its bottom line over the last three years, but what does the future have in store? It might be well worthwhile taking a look at our free report on how its financial position has changed over time.

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. It's fair to say that the TSR gives a more complete picture for stocks that pay a dividend. We note that for Steel & Tube Holdings the TSR over the last 5 years was -36%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!

A Different Perspective

We're pleased to report that Steel & Tube Holdings shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 12% over one year. And that does include the dividend. Notably the five-year annualised TSR loss of 6% per year compares very unfavourably with the recent share price performance. The long term loss makes us cautious, but the short term TSR gain certainly hints at a brighter future. 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. Case in point: We've spotted 3 warning signs for Steel & Tube Holdings you should be aware of, and 1 of them makes us a bit uncomfortable.

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 NZ 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.