In order to justify the effort of selecting individual stocks, it’s worth striving to beat the returns from a market index fund. But in any portfolio, there are likely to be some stocks that fall short of that benchmark. Unfortunately, that’s been the case for longer term BOC Hong Kong (Holdings) Limited (HKG:2388) shareholders, since the share price is down 35% in the last three years, falling well short of the market decline of around 5.2%. And the ride hasn’t got any smoother in recent times over the last year, with the price 26% lower in that time. The falls have accelerated recently, with the share price down 17% in the last three months. However, one could argue that the price has been influenced by the general market, which is down 11% in the same timeframe.
While markets are a powerful pricing mechanism, share prices reflect investor sentiment, not just underlying business performance. 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.
Although the share price is down over three years, BOC Hong Kong (Holdings) actually managed to grow EPS by 9.4% per year in that time. Given the share price reaction, one might suspect that EPS is not a good guide to the business performance during the period (perhaps due to a one-off loss or gain). 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.
Given the healthiness of the dividend payments, we doubt that they’ve concerned the market. We like that BOC Hong Kong (Holdings) has actually grown its revenue over the last three years. If the company can keep growing revenue, there may be an opportunity for investors. You might have to dig deeper to understand the recent share price weakness.
The image below shows how earnings and revenue have tracked over time (if you click on the image you can see greater detail).
Take a more thorough look at BOC Hong Kong (Holdings)’s financial health with this free report on its balance sheet.
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. Arguably, the TSR gives a more comprehensive picture of the return generated by a stock. We note that for BOC Hong Kong (Holdings) the TSR over the last 3 years was -27%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!
A Different Perspective
We regret to report that BOC Hong Kong (Holdings) shareholders are down 25% for the year (even including dividends) . Unfortunately, that’s worse than the broader market decline of 8.5%. However, it could simply be that the share price has been impacted by broader market jitters. It might be worth keeping an eye on the fundamentals, in case there’s a good opportunity. Regrettably, last year’s performance caps off a bad run, with the shareholders facing a total loss of 2.4% 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. It’s always interesting to track share price performance over the longer term. But to understand BOC Hong Kong (Holdings) better, we need to consider many other factors. Consider for instance, the ever-present spectre of investment risk. We’ve identified 1 warning sign with BOC Hong Kong (Holdings) , and understanding them should be part of your investment process.
Of course BOC Hong Kong (Holdings) may not be the best stock to buy. So you may wish to see this free collection of growth stocks.
Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on HK 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. Thank you for reading.