Passive investing in an index fund is a good way to ensure your own returns roughly match the overall market. When you buy individual stocks, you can make higher profits, but you also face the risk of under-performance. That downside risk was realized by Aurizon Holdings Limited (ASX:AZJ) shareholders over the last year, as the share price declined 27%. That falls noticeably short of the market decline of around 3.4%. Longer term shareholders haven’t suffered as badly, since the stock is down a comparatively less painful 13% in three years. Shareholders have had an even rougher run lately, with the share price down 10% in the last 90 days. We note that the company has reported results fairly recently; and the market is hardly delighted. You can check out the latest numbers in our company report.
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. By comparing earnings per share (EPS) and share price changes over time, we can get a feel for how investor attitudes to a company have morphed over time.
Even though the Aurizon Holdings share price is down over the year, its EPS actually improved. Of course, the situation might betray previous over-optimism about growth.
The divergence between the EPS and the share price is quite notable, during the year. But we might find some different metrics explain the share price movements better.
Aurizon Holdings’ dividend seems healthy to us, so we doubt that the yield is a concern for the market. The revenue trend doesn’t seem to explain why the share price is down. Of course, it could simply be that it simply fell short of the market consensus expectations.
You can see below how earnings and revenue have changed over time (discover the exact values by clicking on the image).
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 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. 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, Aurizon Holdings’ TSR for the last year was -23%, 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
While the broader market lost about 3.4% in the twelve months, Aurizon Holdings shareholders did even worse, losing 23% (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. On the bright side, long term shareholders have made money, with a gain of 2.2% per year over half a decade. It could be that the recent sell-off is an opportunity, so it may be worth checking the fundamental data for signs of a long term growth trend. 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. Consider for instance, the ever-present spectre of investment risk. We’ve identified 3 warning signs with Aurizon Holdings (at least 1 which is a bit concerning) , and understanding them should be part of your investment process.
Aurizon Holdings 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 AU exchanges.
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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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