Passive investing in an index fund is a good way to ensure your own returns roughly match the overall market. Active investors aim to buy stocks that vastly outperform the market - but in the process, they risk under-performance. Investors in Wabash National Corporation (NYSE:WNC) have tasted that bitter downside in the last year, as the share price dropped 20%. That's disappointing when you consider the market returned 4.1%. On the other hand, the stock is actually up 8.6% over three years. But it's up 6.7% in the last week.
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.
Unfortunately Wabash National reported an EPS drop of 47% for the last year. The share price fall of 20% isn't as bad as the reduction in earnings per share. It may have been that the weak EPS was not as bad as some had feared.
The company's earnings per share (over time) is depicted in the image below (click to see the exact numbers).
Before buying or selling a stock, we always recommend a close examination of historic growth trends, available here..
What about the Total Shareholder Return (TSR)?
We've already covered Wabash National's share price action, but we should also mention its total shareholder return (TSR). The TSR attempts to capture the value of dividends (as if they were reinvested) as well as any spin-offs or discounted capital raisings offered to shareholders. Dividends have been really beneficial for Wabash National shareholders, and that cash payout explains why its total shareholder loss of 18%, over the last year, isn't as bad as the share price return.
A Different Perspective
Wabash National shareholders are down 18% for the year (even including dividends), but the market itself is up 4.1%. Even the share prices of good stocks drop sometimes, but we want to see improvements in the fundamental metrics of a business, before getting too interested. Longer term investors wouldn't be so upset, since they would have made 2.0%, each year, over five years. It could be that the recent sell-off is an opportunity, so it may be worth checking the fundamental data for signs of a long term growth trend. Before deciding if you like the current share price, check how Wabash National scores on these 3 valuation metrics.
Of course Wabash National may not be the best stock to buy. So you may wish to see this free collection of growth stocks.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.