Long term investing is the way to go, but that doesn't mean you should hold every stock forever. It hits us in the gut when we see fellow investors suffer a loss. For example, we sympathize with anyone who was caught holding Lucara Diamond Corp. (TSE:LUC) during the five years that saw its share price drop a whopping 80%. More recently, the share price has dropped a further 10% in a month. But this could be related to poor market conditions -- stocks are down 8.1% in the same time. While a drop like that is definitely a body blow, money isn't as important as health and happiness.
It's worthwhile assessing if the company's economics have been moving in lockstep with these underwhelming shareholder returns, or if there is some disparity between the two. So let's do just that.
In his essay The Superinvestors of Graham-and-Doddsville Warren Buffett described how share prices do not always rationally reflect the value of a business. 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.
During five years of share price growth, Lucara Diamond moved from a loss to profitability. Most would consider that to be a good thing, so it's counter-intuitive to see the share price declining. Other metrics might give us a better handle on how its value is changing over time.
Arguably, the revenue drop of 4.7% 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 company's revenue and earnings (over time) are depicted in the image below (click to see the exact numbers).
We know that Lucara Diamond has improved its bottom line lately, but what does the future have in store? You can see what analysts are predicting for Lucara Diamond in this interactive graph of future profit estimates.
What about the Total Shareholder Return (TSR)?
Investors should note that there's a difference between Lucara Diamond's total shareholder return (TSR) and its share price change, which we've covered above. 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. Lucara Diamond's TSR of was a loss of 77% for the 5 years. That wasn't as bad as its share price return, because it has paid dividends.
A Different Perspective
While the broader market gained around 7.1% in the last year, Lucara Diamond shareholders lost 20%. However, keep in mind that even the best stocks will sometimes underperform the market over a twelve month period. Unfortunately, longer term shareholders are suffering worse, given the loss of 12% doled out over the last five years. We would want clear information suggesting the company will grow, before taking the view that the share price will stabilize. While it is well worth considering the different impacts that market conditions can have on the share price, there are other factors that are even more important. Take risks, for example - Lucara Diamond has 2 warning signs (and 1 which is 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 CA 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.