As an investor its worth striving to ensure your overall portfolio beats the market average. But in any portfolio, there are likely to be some stocks that fall short of that benchmark. We regret to report that long term Aurizon Holdings Limited (ASX:AZJ) shareholders have had that experience, with the share price dropping 35% in three years, versus a market return of about 22%.
So let's have a look and see if the longer term performance of the company has been in line with the underlying business' progress.
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 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).
Although the share price is down over three years, Aurizon Holdings actually managed to grow EPS by 5.4% per year in that time. 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 else the company was over-hyped in the past, and so its growth has disappointed.
It's worth taking a look at other metrics, because the EPS growth doesn't seem to match with the falling share price.
It's quite likely that the declining dividend has caused some investors to sell their shares, pushing the price lower in the process. It doesn't seem like the changes in revenue would have impacted the share price much, but a closer inspection of the data might reveal something.
The graphic below depicts how earnings and revenue have changed over time (unveil the exact values by clicking on the image).
It's probably worth noting we've seen significant insider buying in the last quarter, which we consider a positive. On the other hand, we think the revenue and earnings trends are much more meaningful measures of the business. This free report showing analyst forecasts should help you form a view on Aurizon Holdings
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. Arguably, the TSR gives a more comprehensive picture of the return generated by a stock. As it happens, Aurizon Holdings' TSR for the last 3 years was -22%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. And there's no prize for guessing that the dividend payments largely explain the divergence!
A Different Perspective
We're pleased to report that Aurizon Holdings shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 14% over one year. And that does include the dividend. There's no doubt those recent returns are much better than the TSR loss of 0.7% per year over five years. The long term loss makes us cautious, but the short term TSR gain certainly hints at a brighter future. I find it very interesting to look at share price over the long term as a proxy for business performance. But to truly gain insight, we need to consider other information, too. To that end, you should be aware of the 2 warning signs we've spotted with Aurizon Holdings .
There are plenty of other companies that have insiders buying up shares. You probably do not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying.
Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on AU 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.
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