Personal Group Holdings Plc (LON:PGH) shareholders should be happy to see the share price up 12% in the last month. But that doesn’t change the fact that the returns over the last five years have been less than pleasing. In fact, the share price is down 48%, which falls well short of the return you could get by buying an index fund.
There is no denying that markets are sometimes efficient, but prices do not always reflect 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.
While the share price declined over five years, Personal Group Holdings actually managed to increase EPS by an average of 2.4% per year. 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 possibly, the market was previously very optimistic, so the stock has disappointed, despite improving EPS.
By glancing at these numbers, we’d posit that the the market had expectations of much higher growth, five years ago. Looking to other metrics might better explain the share price change.
We note that the dividend has remained healthy, so that wouldn’t really explain the share price drop. While it’s not completely obvious why the share price is down, a closer look at the company’s history might help explain it.
You can see how earnings and revenue have changed over time in the image below (click on the chart to see the exact values).
It’s probably worth noting that the CEO is paid less than the median at similar sized companies. But while CEO remuneration is always worth checking, the really important question is whether the company can grow earnings going forward. Dive deeper into the earnings by checking this interactive graph of Personal Group Holdings’s earnings, revenue and cash flow.
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. It’s fair to say that the TSR gives a more complete picture for stocks that pay a dividend. We note that for Personal Group Holdings the TSR over the last 5 years was -32%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.
A Different Perspective
While the broader market lost about 18% in the twelve months, Personal Group Holdings shareholders did even worse, losing 30% (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. Unfortunately, last year’s performance may indicate unresolved challenges, given that it was worse than the annualised loss of 7.4% over the last half decade. We realise that Baron Rothschild has said investors should “buy when there is blood on the streets”, but we caution that investors should first be sure they are buying a high quality business. 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 2 warning signs for Personal Group Holdings (1 is potentially serious!) that you should be aware of before investing here.
If you would prefer to check out another company — one with potentially superior financials — then do not miss this free list of companies that have proven they can grow earnings.
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 email@example.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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