Did Changing Sentiment Drive LiveChat Software’s (WSE:LVC) Share Price Down By 37%?

It can certainly be frustrating when a stock does not perform as hoped. But it’s hard to avoid some disappointing investments when the overall market is down. The LiveChat Software S.A. (WSE:LVC) is down 37% over three years, but the total shareholder return is -27% once you include the dividend. And that total return actually beats the market return of -40%. Even worse, it’s down 26% in about a month, which isn’t fun at all. However, we note the price may have been impacted by the broader market, which is down 34% in the same time period.

See our latest analysis for LiveChat Software

While the efficient markets hypothesis continues to be taught by some, it has been proven that markets are over-reactive dynamic systems, and investors are not always rational. 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, LiveChat Software actually saw its earnings per share (EPS) improve by 17% per year. This is quite a puzzle, and suggests there might be something temporarily buoying the share price. Or else the company was over-hyped in the past, and so its growth has disappointed.

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.

We note that the dividend seems healthy enough, so that probably doesn’t explain the share price drop. It’s good to see that LiveChat Software has increased its revenue over the last three years. But it’s not clear to us why the share price is down. It might be worth diving deeper into the fundamentals, lest an opportunity goes begging.

You can see below how earnings and revenue have changed over time (discover the exact values by clicking on the image).

WSE:LVC Income Statement, March 13th 2020
WSE:LVC Income Statement, March 13th 2020

We know that LiveChat Software has improved its bottom line lately, but what does the future have in store? This free report showing analyst forecasts should help you form a view on LiveChat Software

What About Dividends?

It is important to consider the total shareholder return, as well as the share price return, for any given stock. The TSR incorporates the value of any spin-offs or discounted capital raisings, along with any dividends, based on the assumption that the dividends are reinvested. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. We note that for LiveChat Software the TSR over the last 3 years was -27%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. And there’s no prize for guessing that the dividend payments largely explain the divergence!

A Different Perspective

It’s nice to see that LiveChat Software shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 39% over the last year. That’s including the dividend. That gain is better than the annual TSR over five years, which is 3.9%. Therefore it seems like sentiment around the company has been positive lately. Someone with an optimistic perspective could view the recent improvement in TSR as indicating that the business itself is getting better with time. 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. To that end, you should learn about the 3 warning signs we’ve spotted with LiveChat Software (including 1 which is can’t be ignored) .

But note: LiveChat Software 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 PL exchanges.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.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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