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Volatility 101: Should Vector Group (NYSE:VGR) Shares Have Dropped 46%?

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As an investor its worth striving to ensure your overall portfolio beats the market average. But its virtually certain that sometimes you will buy stocks that fall short of the market average returns. Unfortunately, that's been the case for longer term Vector Group Ltd. (NYSE:VGR) shareholders, since the share price is down 46% in the last three years, falling well short of the market return of around 21%. Shareholders have had an even rougher run lately, with the share price down 28% in the last 90 days. Of course, this share price action may well have been influenced by the 18% decline in the broader market, throughout the period.

View our latest analysis for Vector Group

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. 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, Vector Group actually saw its earnings per share (EPS) improve by 10.0% 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.

Given the healthiness of the dividend payments, we doubt that they've concerned the market. It's good to see that Vector Group has increased its revenue over the last three years. But it's not clear to us why the share price is down. It might be worth diving deeper into the fundamentals, lest an opportunity goes begging.

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

NYSE:VGR Income Statement April 8th 2020
NYSE:VGR Income Statement April 8th 2020

We know that Vector Group has improved its bottom line lately, but what does the future have in store? So we recommend checking out this free report showing consensus forecasts

What About Dividends?

As well as measuring the share price return, investors should also consider the total shareholder return (TSR). The TSR is a return calculation that accounts for the value of cash dividends (assuming that any dividend received was reinvested) and the calculated value of any discounted capital raisings and spin-offs. It's fair to say that the TSR gives a more complete picture for stocks that pay a dividend. In the case of Vector Group, it has a TSR of -27% for the last 3 years. That exceeds its share price return that we previously mentioned. And there's no prize for guessing that the dividend payments largely explain the divergence!

A Different Perspective

It's nice to see that Vector Group shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 8.7% over the last year. And that does include the dividend. There's no doubt those recent returns are much better than the TSR loss of 2.8% per year over five years. This makes us a little wary, but the business might have turned around its fortunes. 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. Take risks, for example - Vector Group has 4 warning signs (and 2 which are significant) we think 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.