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If You Had Bought Elementis (LON:ELM) Stock A Year Ago, You'd Be Sitting On A 51% Loss, Today

Simply Wall St

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Investors can approximate the average market return by buying an index fund. Active investors aim to buy stocks that vastly outperform the market - but in the process, they risk under-performance. That downside risk was realized by Elementis plc (LON:ELM) shareholders over the last year, as the share price declined 51%. That's well bellow the market return of 2.5%. Notably, shareholders had a tough run over the longer term, too, with a drop of 40% in the last three years. The falls have accelerated recently, with the share price down 26% in the last three months.

Check out our latest analysis for Elementis

To quote Buffett, 'Ships will sail around the world but the Flat Earth Society will flourish. There will continue to be wide discrepancies between price and value in the marketplace...' One way to examine how market sentiment has changed over time is to look at the interaction between a company's share price and its earnings per share (EPS).

Unhappily, Elementis had to report a 61% decline in EPS over the last year. We note that the 51% share price drop is very close to the EPS drop. Therefore one could posit that the market has not become more concerned about the company, despite the lower EPS. Instead, the change in the share price seems to reduction in earnings per share, alone.

The image below shows how EPS has tracked over time (if you click on the image you can see greater detail).

LSE:ELM Past and Future Earnings, July 18th 2019

Dive deeper into Elementis's key metrics by checking this interactive graph of Elementis'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. 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. We note that for Elementis the TSR over the last year was -45%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. And there's no prize for guessing that the dividend payments largely explain the divergence!

A Different Perspective

Elementis shareholders are down 45% for the year (even including dividends), but the market itself is up 2.5%. However, keep in mind that even the best stocks will sometimes underperform the market over a twelve month period. Unfortunately, last year's performance may indicate unresolved challenges, given that it was worse than the annualised loss of 7.4% over the last half decade. 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. Most investors take the time to check the data on insider transactions. You can click here to see if insiders have been buying or selling.

For those who like to find winning investments this free list of growing companies with recent insider purchasing, could be just the ticket.

Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on GB exchanges.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.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.