In order to justify the effort of selecting individual stocks, it’s worth striving to beat the returns from a market index fund. But its virtually certain that sometimes you will buy stocks that fall short of the market average returns. We regret to report that long term Olin Corporation (NYSE:OLN) shareholders have had that experience, with the share price dropping 31% in three years, versus a market return of about 45%. Even worse, it’s down 10% in about a month, which isn’t fun at all.
To quote Buffett, ‘Ships will sail around the world but the Flat Earth Society will flourish. There will continue to be wide discrepancies between price and value in the marketplace…’ 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.
During five years of share price growth, Olin moved from a loss to profitability. That would generally be considered a positive, so we are surprised to see the share price is down. So it’s worth looking at other metrics to try to understand the share price move.
We note that the dividend seems healthy enough, so that probably doesn’t explain the share price drop. It’s good to see that Olin has increased 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 graphic below depicts how earnings and revenue have changed over time.
We like that insiders have been buying shares in the last twelve months. Even so, future earnings will be far more important to whether current shareholders make money. If you are thinking of buying or selling Olin stock, you should check out this free report showing analyst profit forecasts.
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 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. In the case of Olin, it has a TSR of -25% for the last 3 years. That exceeds its share price return that we previously mentioned. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.
A Different Perspective
While the broader market gained around 21% in the last year, Olin shareholders lost 11% (even including dividends) . However, keep in mind that even the best stocks will sometimes underperform the market over a twelve month period. Regrettably, last year’s performance caps off a bad run, with the shareholders facing a total loss of 1.3% per year over five years. We realise that Buffett 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 businesses. If you want to research this stock further, the data on insider buying is an obvious place to start. You can click here to see who has been buying shares – and the price they paid.
If you like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).
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.
We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Thank you for reading.