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Positive earnings growth hasn't been enough to get Dewhurst Group (LON:DWHT) shareholders a favorable return over the last three years

It is a pleasure to report that the Dewhurst Group Plc (LON:DWHT) is up 45% in the last quarter. But that cannot eclipse the less-than-impressive returns over the last three years. After all, the share price is down 40% in the last three years, significantly under-performing the market.

The recent uptick of 12% could be a positive sign of things to come, so let's take a look at historical fundamentals.

See our latest analysis for Dewhurst Group

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 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.

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During the unfortunate three years of share price decline, Dewhurst Group actually saw its earnings per share (EPS) improve by 7.4% per year. This is quite a puzzle, and suggests there might be something temporarily buoying the share price. Alternatively, growth expectations may have been unreasonable in the past.

Since the change in EPS doesn't seem to correlate with the change in share price, it's worth taking a look at other metrics.

With a rather small yield of just 1.5% we doubt that the stock's share price is based on its dividend. The company has kept revenue pretty healthy over the last three years, so we doubt that explains the falling share price. There doesn't seem to be any clear correlation between the fundamental business metrics and the share price. That could mean that the stock was previously overrated, or it could spell opportunity now.

The company's revenue and earnings (over time) are depicted in the image below (click to see the exact numbers).

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

If you are thinking of buying or selling Dewhurst Group 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 incorporates the value of any spin-offs or discounted capital raisings, along with any dividends, based on the assumption that the dividends are reinvested. It's fair to say that the TSR gives a more complete picture for stocks that pay a dividend. We note that for Dewhurst Group the TSR over the last 3 years was -38%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.

A Different Perspective

Investors in Dewhurst Group had a tough year, with a total loss of 2.7% (including dividends), against a market gain of about 8.4%. However, keep in mind that even the best stocks will sometimes underperform the market over a twelve month period. On the bright side, long term shareholders have made money, with a gain of 4% per year over half a decade. If the fundamental data continues to indicate long term sustainable growth, the current sell-off could be an opportunity worth considering. 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. Case in point: We've spotted 1 warning sign for Dewhurst Group you should be aware of.

Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking elsewhere. So take a peek at this free list of companies we expect will grow earnings.

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