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Card Factory plc (LON:CARD) shareholders will doubtless be very grateful to see the share price up 40% in the last week. But spare a thought for the long term holders, who have held the stock as it bled value over the last five years. Like a ship taking on water, the share price has sunk 87% in that time. While the recent increase might be a green shoot, we're certainly hesitant to rejoice. The important question is if the business itself justifies a higher share price in the long term.
We really hope anyone holding through that price crash has a diversified portfolio. Even when you lose money, you don't have to lose the lesson.
While markets are a powerful pricing mechanism, share prices reflect investor sentiment, not just underlying business performance. 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 five years over which the share price declined, Card Factory's earnings per share (EPS) dropped by 25% each year. This reduction in EPS is less than the 33% annual reduction in the share price. This implies that the market is more cautious about the business these days. The low P/E ratio of 10.95 further reflects this reticence.
You can see how EPS has changed over time in the image below (click on the chart to see the exact values).
Before buying or selling a stock, we always recommend a close examination of historic growth trends, available here.
What about the Total Shareholder Return (TSR)?
We'd be remiss not to mention the difference between Card Factory's total shareholder return (TSR) and its share price return. Arguably the TSR is a more complete return calculation because it accounts for the value of dividends (as if they were reinvested), along with the hypothetical value of any discounted capital that have been offered to shareholders. Its history of dividend payouts mean that Card Factory's TSR, which was a 82% drop over the last 5 years, was not as bad as the share price return.
A Different Perspective
Investors in Card Factory had a tough year, with a total loss of 41%, against a market gain of about 7.2%. 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. Unfortunately, last year's performance may indicate unresolved challenges, given that it was worse than the annualised loss of 13% over the last half decade. 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. 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. Consider for instance, the ever-present spectre of investment risk. We've identified 3 warning signs with Card Factory , and understanding them should be part of your investment process.
But note: Card Factory 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 GB exchanges.
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. 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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