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The three-year underlying earnings growth at Burberry Group (LON:BRBY) is promising, but the shareholders are still in the red over that time

·3-min read

For many investors, the main point of stock picking is to generate higher returns than the overall market. But its virtually certain that sometimes you will buy stocks that fall short of the market average returns. Unfortunately, that's been the case for longer term Burberry Group plc (LON:BRBY) shareholders, since the share price is down 32% in the last three years, falling well short of the market decline of around 3.7%.

With the stock having lost 3.2% in the past week, it's worth taking a look at business performance and seeing if there's any red flags.

Check out our latest analysis for Burberry 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 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 three years of share price decline, Burberry Group actually saw its earnings per share (EPS) improve by 6.7% 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.

The company has kept revenue pretty healthy over the last three years, so we doubt that explains the falling share price. We're not entirely sure why the share price is dropped, but it does seem likely investors have become less optimistic about the business.

The image below shows how earnings and revenue have tracked over time (if you click on the image you can see greater detail).

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

We like that insiders have been buying shares in the last twelve months. Even so, future earnings will be far more important to whether current shareholders make money. This free report showing analyst forecasts should help you form a view on Burberry Group

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. As it happens, Burberry Group's TSR for the last 3 years was -28%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!

A Different Perspective

We regret to report that Burberry Group shareholders are down 17% for the year (even including dividends). Unfortunately, that's worse than the broader market decline of 4.8%. Having said that, it's inevitable that some stocks will be oversold in a falling market. The key is to keep your eyes on the fundamental developments. On the bright side, long term shareholders have made money, with a gain of 1.3% 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. It's always interesting to track share price performance over the longer term. But to understand Burberry Group better, we need to consider many other factors. To that end, you should be aware of the 1 warning sign we've spotted with Burberry Group .

Burberry Group is not the only stock insiders are buying. So take a peek at this free list of growing companies with insider buying.

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