As an investor its worth striving to ensure your overall portfolio beats the market average. But the risk of stock picking is that you will likely buy under-performing companies. We regret to report that long term Jiangxi Copper Company Limited (HKG:358) shareholders have had that experience, with the share price dropping 31% in three years, versus a market return of about 13%.
To paraphrase Benjamin Graham: Over the short term the market is a voting machine, but over the long term it's a weighing machine. 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.
Although the share price is down over three years, Jiangxi Copper actually managed to grow EPS by 84% per year in that time. 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 revenue flat over three years, it seems unlikely that the share price is reflecting the top line. 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 company's revenue and earnings (over time) are depicted in the image below (click to see the exact numbers).
We know that Jiangxi Copper has improved its bottom line over the last three years, but what does the future have in store? You can see how its balance sheet has strengthened (or weakened) over time in this free interactive graphic.
What About Dividends?
When looking at investment returns, it is important to consider the difference between total shareholder return (TSR) and share price return. 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 Jiangxi Copper the TSR over the last 3 years was -26%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!
A Different Perspective
While the broader market lost about 1.6% in the twelve months, Jiangxi Copper shareholders did even worse, losing 7.1% (even including dividends) . 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. Regrettably, last year's performance caps off a bad run, with the shareholders facing a total loss of 4.6% per year over five years. 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. 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. Be aware that Jiangxi Copper is showing 2 warning signs in our investment analysis , you should know about...
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 HK exchanges.
If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at email@example.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.
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