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Statistically speaking, long term investing is a profitable endeavour. But that doesn’t mean long term investors can avoid big losses. Zooming in on an example, the Mortgage Choice Limited (ASX:MOC) share price dropped 76% in the last half decade. That’s not a lot of fun for true believers. And some of the more recent buyers are probably worried, too, with the stock falling 70% in the last year. Furthermore, it’s down 39% in about a quarter, which is even more concerning.
To paraphrase Benjamin Graham: Over the short term the market is a voting machine, but over the long term it’s a weighing machine. One imperfect but simple way to consider how the market perception of a company has shifted is to compare the change in the earnings per share (EPS) with the share price movement.
Looking back five years, both Mortgage Choice’s share price and EPS declined; the latter at a rate of 26% per year. This change in EPS is reasonably close to the 25% average annual decrease in the share price. That suggests that the market sentiment around the company hasn’t changed much over that time. So it’s fair to say the share price has been responding to changes in EPS.
The image below shows how EPS has tracked over time (if you click on the image you can see greater detail).
Before buying or selling a stock, we always recommend a close examination of historic growth trends, available here..
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. Arguably, the TSR gives a more comprehensive picture of the return generated by a stock. We note that for Mortgage Choice the TSR over the last 5 years was -65%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!
A Different Perspective
Mortgage Choice shareholders are down 67% for the year (even including dividends), but the market itself is up 8.4%. 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 19% 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. If you would like to research Mortgage Choice in more detail then you might want to take a look at whether insiders have been buying or selling shares in the company.
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 AU exchanges.
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.
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. Thank you for reading.