Many investors define successful investing as beating the market average over the long term. But if you try your hand at stock picking, your risk returning less than the market. Unfortunately, that’s been the case for longer term 888 Holdings plc (LON:888) shareholders, since the share price is down 44% in the last three years, falling well short of the market return of around 17%. The falls have accelerated recently, with the share price down 25% in the last three months.
There is no denying that markets are sometimes efficient, but prices do not always reflect underlying business performance. 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.
Although the share price is down over three years, 888 Holdings actually managed to grow EPS by 17% per year in that time. This is quite a puzzle, and suggests there might be something temporarily buoying the share price. Alternatively, growth expectations may have been unreasonable in the past.
It’s worth taking a look at other metrics, because the EPS growth doesn’t seem to match with the falling share price.
We note that the dividend seems healthy enough, so that probably doesn’t explain the share price drop. Revenue has been pretty flat over three years, so that isn’t an obvious reason shareholders would sell. A closer look at revenue and profit trends might yield insights.
The graphic below depicts how earnings and revenue have changed over time (unveil the exact values by clicking on the image).
Balance sheet strength is crucial. It might be well worthwhile taking a look at our free report on how its financial position has changed over time.
What About Dividends?
When looking at investment returns, it is important to consider the difference between total shareholder return (TSR) and share price return. The TSR is a return calculation that accounts for the value of cash dividends (assuming that any dividend received was reinvested) and the calculated value of any discounted capital raisings and spin-offs. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. In the case of 888 Holdings, it has a TSR of -34% for the last 3 years. That exceeds its share price return that we previously mentioned. And there’s no prize for guessing that the dividend payments largely explain the divergence!
A Different Perspective
888 Holdings shareholders are down 15% for the year (even including dividends) , but the market itself is up 12%. 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 3.7%, each year, over five years. 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. 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. Take risks, for example – 888 Holdings has 2 warning signs we think you should be aware of.
Of course 888 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 GB 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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