Long term investing is the way to go, but that doesn't mean you should hold every stock forever. It hits us in the gut when we see fellow investors suffer a loss. For example, we sympathize with anyone who was caught holding The New Zealand Refining Company Limited (NZSE:NZR) during the five years that saw its share price drop a whopping 84%. And it's not just long term holders hurting, because the stock is down 74% in the last year. Shareholders have had an even rougher run lately, with the share price down 24% in the last 90 days.
We really feel for shareholders in this scenario. It's a good reminder of the importance of diversification, and it's worth keeping in mind there's more to life than money, anyway.
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 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.
Over five years New Zealand Refining's earnings per share dropped significantly, falling to a loss, with the share price also lower. Since the company has fallen to a loss making position, it's hard to compare the change in EPS with the share price change. But we would generally expect a lower price, given the situation.
You can see below how EPS has changed over time (discover the exact values by clicking on the image).
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've already covered New Zealand Refining's share price action, but we should also mention its total shareholder return (TSR). The TSR attempts to capture the value of dividends (as if they were reinvested) as well as any spin-offs or discounted capital raisings offered to shareholders. Its history of dividend payouts mean that New Zealand Refining's TSR, which was a 80% drop over the last 5 years, was not as bad as the share price return.
A Different Perspective
While the broader market gained around 13% in the last year, New Zealand Refining shareholders lost 74%. However, keep in mind that even the best stocks will sometimes underperform the market over a twelve month period. Regrettably, last year's performance caps off a bad run, with the shareholders facing a total loss of 12% per year over five years. 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. 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. For instance, we've identified 2 warning signs for New Zealand Refining that you should be aware of.
We will like New Zealand Refining better if we see some big insider buys. While we wait, check out this free list of growing companies with considerable, recent, insider buying.
Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on NZ 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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