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Overseas Education (SGX:RQ1) investors are sitting on a loss of 14% if they invested five years ago

The main aim of stock picking is to find the market-beating stocks. But even the best stock picker will only win with some selections. So we wouldn't blame long term Overseas Education Limited (SGX:RQ1) shareholders for doubting their decision to hold, with the stock down 41% over a half decade. The falls have accelerated recently, with the share price down 10% in the last three months.

Since shareholders are down over the longer term, lets look at the underlying fundamentals over the that time and see if they've been consistent with returns.

View our latest analysis for Overseas Education

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 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 the unfortunate half decade during which the share price slipped, Overseas Education actually saw its earnings per share (EPS) improve by 0.5% 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). Alternatively, growth expectations may have been unreasonable in the past.

By glancing at these numbers, we'd posit that the the market had expectations of much higher growth, five years ago. Looking to other metrics might better explain the share price change.

The most recent dividend was actually lower than it was in the past, so that may have sent the share price lower. On top of that, revenue has declined by 3.4% per year over the half decade; that could be a red flag for some investors.

The image below shows how earnings and revenue have tracked over time (if you click on the image you can see greater detail).

earnings-and-revenue-growth
earnings-and-revenue-growth

If you are thinking of buying or selling Overseas Education stock, you should check out this FREE detailed report on its balance sheet.

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 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. As it happens, Overseas Education's TSR for the last 5 years was -14%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.

A Different Perspective

Overseas Education shareholders are down 7.3% for the year (even including dividends), but the market itself is up 4.7%. 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. Regrettably, last year's performance caps off a bad run, with the shareholders facing a total loss of 3% per year over five years. Generally speaking long term share price weakness can be a bad sign, though contrarian investors might want to research the stock in hope of a turnaround. 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. Even so, be aware that Overseas Education is showing 5 warning signs in our investment analysis , and 1 of those shouldn't be ignored...

But note: Overseas Education 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 SG exchanges.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.

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.

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