Passive investing in an index fund is a good way to ensure your own returns roughly match the overall market. Active investors aim to buy stocks that vastly outperform the market – but in the process, they risk under-performance. That downside risk was realized by CNA Financial Corporation (NYSE:CNA) shareholders over the last year, as the share price declined 36%. That falls noticeably short of the market decline of around 2.2%. Notably, shareholders had a tough run over the longer term, too, with a drop of 33% in the last three years. In the last ninety days we’ve seen the share price slide 42%. This could be related to the recent financial results – you can catch up on the most recent data by reading our company report.
While markets are a powerful pricing mechanism, share prices reflect investor sentiment, not just underlying business performance. One way to examine how market sentiment has changed over time is to look at the interaction between a company’s share price and its earnings per share (EPS).
Unfortunately CNA Financial reported an EPS drop of 31% for the last year. We note that the 36% share price drop is very close to the EPS drop. So it seems that the market sentiment has not changed much, despite the weak results. Instead, the change in the share price seems to reduction in earnings per share, alone.
You can see below how EPS has changed over time (discover the exact values by clicking on the image).
This free interactive report on CNA Financial’s earnings, revenue and cash flow is a great place to start, if you want to investigate the stock further.
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. We note that for CNA Financial the TSR over the last year was -32%, 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 gained around 2.2% in the last year, CNA Financial shareholders lost 32% (even including dividends) . Even the share prices of good stocks drop sometimes, but we want to see improvements in the fundamental metrics of a business, before getting too interested. Longer term investors wouldn’t be so upset, since they would have made 1.8%, each year, over five years. If the fundamental data continues to indicate long term sustainable growth, the current sell-off could be an opportunity worth considering. 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. For example, we’ve discovered 3 warning signs for CNA Financial that you should be aware of before investing here.
Of course CNA Financial 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 US exchanges.
If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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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