We think intelligent long term investing is the way to go. But along the way some stocks are going to perform badly. For example, after five long years the Centrica plc (LON:CNA) share price is a whole 60% lower. We certainly feel for shareholders who bought near the top.
Given the past week has been tough on shareholders, let's investigate the fundamentals and see what we can learn.
While markets are a powerful pricing mechanism, share prices reflect investor sentiment, not just 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.
Centrica became profitable within the last five years. Most would consider that to be a good thing, so it's counter-intuitive to see the share price declining. Other metrics may better explain the share price move.
Arguably, the revenue drop of 20% a year for half a decade suggests that the company can't grow in the long term. That could explain the weak share price.
The graphic below depicts how earnings and revenue have changed over time (unveil the exact values by clicking on the image).
It's probably worth noting that the CEO is paid less than the median at similar sized companies. It's always worth keeping an eye on CEO pay, but a more important question is whether the company will grow earnings throughout the years. You can see what analysts are predicting for Centrica in this interactive graph of future profit estimates.
What about the Total Shareholder Return (TSR)?
We've already covered Centrica'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. Its history of dividend payouts mean that Centrica's TSR, which was a 51% drop over the last 5 years, was not as bad as the share price return.
A Different Perspective
We're pleased to report that Centrica shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 52% over one year. There's no doubt those recent returns are much better than the TSR loss of 9% per year over five years. This makes us a little wary, but the business might have turned around its fortunes. It's always interesting to track share price performance over the longer term. But to understand Centrica better, we need to consider many other factors. Take risks, for example - Centrica has 2 warning signs (and 1 which is potentially serious) we think you should know about.
But note: Centrica may not be the best stock to buy. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with past earnings growth (and further growth forecast).
Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on GB exchanges.
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This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. 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.