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 Singapore Post Limited (SGX:S08) share price is a whole 59% lower. We certainly feel for shareholders who bought near the top.
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.
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 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, Singapore Post actually saw its earnings per share (EPS) improve by 18% 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). Or possibly, the market was previously very optimistic, so the stock has disappointed, despite improving EPS.
Because of the sharp contrast between the EPS growth rate and the share price growth, we're inclined to look to other metrics to understand the changing market sentiment around the stock.
In contrast to the share price, revenue has actually increased by 3.2% a year in the five year period. A more detailed examination of the revenue and earnings may or may not explain why the share price languishes; there could be an opportunity.
You can see how earnings and revenue have changed over time in the image below (click on the chart to see the exact values).
You can see how its balance sheet has strengthened (or weakened) over time in this free interactive graphic.
What About Dividends?
As well as measuring the share price return, investors should also consider the total shareholder return (TSR). Whereas the share price return only reflects the change in the share price, the TSR includes the value of dividends (assuming they were reinvested) and the benefit of any discounted capital raising or spin-off. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. As it happens, Singapore Post's TSR for the last 5 years was -54%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!
A Different Perspective
While the broader market gained around 5.5% in the last year, Singapore Post shareholders lost 17% (even including dividends). 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 9% per year over five years. We realise that Baron Rothschild has said investors should "buy when there is blood on the streets", but we caution that investors should first be sure they are buying a high quality business. It's always interesting to track share price performance over the longer term. But to understand Singapore Post better, we need to consider many other factors. For example, we've discovered 3 warning signs for Singapore Post that you should be aware of before investing here.
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 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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