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Those Who Purchased Covanta Holding (NYSE:CVA) Shares Five Years Ago Have A 18% Loss To Show For It

Simply Wall St

Ideally, your overall portfolio should beat the market average. But every investor is virtually certain to have both over-performing and under-performing stocks. At this point some shareholders may be questioning their investment in Covanta Holding Corporation (NYSE:CVA), since the last five years saw the share price fall 18%. It's up 3.4% in the last seven days.

See our latest analysis for Covanta Holding

While the efficient markets hypothesis continues to be taught by some, it has been proven that markets are over-reactive dynamic systems, and investors are not always rational. One flawed but reasonable way to assess how sentiment around a company has changed is to compare the earnings per share (EPS) with the share price.

Over five years Covanta Holding's earnings per share dropped significantly, falling to a loss, with the share price also lower. At present it's hard to make valid comparisons between EPS and the share price. But we would generally expect a lower price, given the situation.

The company's earnings per share (over time) is depicted in the image below (click to see the exact numbers).

NYSE:CVA Past and Future Earnings, August 14th 2019

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. Before buying or selling a stock, we always recommend a close examination of historic growth trends, available here..

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. It's fair to say that the TSR gives a more complete picture for stocks that pay a dividend. As it happens, Covanta Holding's TSR for the last 5 years was 10%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.

A Different Perspective

It's nice to see that Covanta Holding shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 4.8% over the last year. And that does include the dividend. That gain is better than the annual TSR over five years, which is 1.9%. Therefore it seems like sentiment around the company has been positive lately. Someone with an optimistic perspective could view the recent improvement in TSR as indicating that the business itself is getting better with time. If you want to research this stock further, the data on insider buying is an obvious place to start. You can click here to see who has been buying shares - and the price they paid.

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 US exchanges.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. 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. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.