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Cleveland-Cliffs Inc. (NYSE:CLF) shareholders might be concerned after seeing the share price drop 17% in the last quarter. But that doesn't undermine the rather lovely longer-term return, if you measure over the last three years. The share price marched upwards over that time, and is now 111% higher than it was. To some, the recent share price pullback wouldn't be surprising after such a good run. The thing to consider is whether the underlying business is doing well enough to support the current price.
While markets are a powerful pricing mechanism, share prices reflect investor sentiment, not just underlying business performance. One imperfect but simple way to consider how the market perception of a company has shifted is to compare the change in the earnings per share (EPS) with the share price movement.
During three years of share price growth, Cleveland-Cliffs achieved compound earnings per share growth of 117% per year. This EPS growth is higher than the 28% average annual increase in the share price. So one could reasonably conclude that the market has cooled on the stock. We'd venture the lowish P/E ratio of 2.65 also reflects the negative sentiment around the stock.
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 Cleveland-Cliffs's earnings, revenue and cash flow.
What About Dividends?
It is important to consider the total shareholder return, as well as the share price return, for any given stock. 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. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. As it happens, Cleveland-Cliffs's TSR for the last 3 years was 113%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.
A Different Perspective
It's good to see that Cleveland-Cliffs has rewarded shareholders with a total shareholder return of 12% in the last twelve months. That's including the dividend. That certainly beats the loss of about 8.1% per year over the last half decade. The long term loss makes us cautious, but the short term TSR gain certainly hints at a brighter future. It is all well and good that insiders have been buying shares, but we suggest you check here to see what price insiders were buying at.
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.
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If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at email@example.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. Thank you for reading.