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Volatility 101: Should Sensient Technologies (NYSE:SXT) Shares Have Dropped 17%?

Simply Wall St

Many investors define successful investing as beating the market average over the long term. But the risk of stock picking is that you will likely buy under-performing companies. We regret to report that long term Sensient Technologies Corporation (NYSE:SXT) shareholders have had that experience, with the share price dropping 17% in three years, versus a market return of about 52%. It's up 1.5% in the last seven days.

View our latest analysis for Sensient Technologies

There is no denying that markets are sometimes efficient, but prices do not always reflect underlying business performance. 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 three years of share price decline, Sensient Technologies actually saw its earnings per share (EPS) improve by 7.9% per year. Given the share price reaction, one might suspect that EPS is not a good guide to the business performance during the period (perhaps due to a one-off loss or gain). Or else the company was over-hyped in the past, and so its growth has disappointed.

Since the change in EPS doesn't seem to correlate with the change in share price, it's worth taking a look at other metrics.

With revenue flat over three years, it seems unlikely that the share price is reflecting the top line. We're not entirely sure why the share price is dropped, but it does seem likely investors have become less optimistic about the business.

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

NYSE:SXT Income Statement, January 16th 2020

You can see how its balance sheet has strengthened (or weakened) over time in this free interactive graphic.

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. Arguably, the TSR gives a more comprehensive picture of the return generated by a stock. We note that for Sensient Technologies the TSR over the last 3 years was -12%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!

A Different Perspective

Sensient Technologies shareholders are up 11% for the year (even including dividends) . But that was short of the market average. The silver lining is that the gain was actually better than the average annual return of 3.2% per year over five year. This could indicate that the company is winning over new investors, as it pursues its strategy. It's always interesting to track share price performance over the longer term. But to understand Sensient Technologies better, we need to consider many other factors. Consider risks, for instance. Every company has them, and we've spotted 1 warning sign for Sensient Technologies you should know about.

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.

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.

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. Thank you for reading.