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It is doubtless a positive to see that the Orion Engineered Carbons S.A. (NYSE:OEC) share price has gained some 31% in the last three months. But that doesn't help the fact that the three year return is less impressive. Truth be told the share price declined 38% in three years and that return, Dear Reader, falls short of what you could have got from passive investing with an index fund.
In his essay The Superinvestors of Graham-and-Doddsville Warren Buffett described how share prices do not always rationally reflect the value of a business. 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.
During the three years that the share price fell, Orion Engineered Carbons' earnings per share (EPS) dropped by 6.4% each year. This reduction in EPS is slower than the 15% annual reduction in the share price. So it's likely that the EPS decline has disappointed the market, leaving investors hesitant to buy.
The image below shows how EPS has tracked over time (if you click on the image you can see greater detail).
It's good to see that there was some significant insider buying in the last three months. That's a positive. That said, we think earnings and revenue growth trends are even more important factors to consider. Dive deeper into the earnings by checking this interactive graph of Orion Engineered Carbons' earnings, revenue and cash flow.
What about the Total Shareholder Return (TSR)?
Investors should note that there's a difference between Orion Engineered Carbons' total shareholder return (TSR) and its share price change, which we've covered above. Arguably the TSR is a more complete return calculation because it accounts for the value of dividends (as if they were reinvested), along with the hypothetical value of any discounted capital that have been offered to shareholders. Its history of dividend payouts mean that Orion Engineered Carbons' TSR, which was a 32% drop over the last 3 years, was not as bad as the share price return.
A Different Perspective
Investors in Orion Engineered Carbons had a tough year, with a total loss of 21%, against a market gain of about 14%. 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 6%, 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. Consider risks, for instance. Every company has them, and we've spotted 3 warning signs for Orion Engineered Carbons you should know about.
There are plenty of other companies that have insiders buying up shares. You probably do not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are 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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