Shareholders 17% loss in GWA Group (ASX:GWA) partly attributable to the company's decline in earnings over past year

By
Simply Wall St
Published
December 30, 2021
ASX:GWA
Source: Shutterstock

This week we saw the GWA Group Limited (ASX:GWA) share price climb by 10%. But that doesn't change the reality of under-performance over the last twelve months. After all, the share price is down 20% in the last year, significantly under-performing the market.

While the stock has risen 10% in the past week but long term shareholders are still in the red, let's see what the fundamentals can tell us.

Check out our latest analysis for GWA Group

In his essay The Superinvestors of Graham-and-Doddsville Warren Buffett described how share prices do not always rationally reflect the value of a business. 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).

Unhappily, GWA Group had to report a 20% decline in EPS over the last year. This change in EPS is remarkably close to the 20% decrease in the share price. So it seems that the market sentiment has not changed much, despite the weak results. Rather, the share price is remains a similar multiple of the EPS, suggesting the outlook remains the same.

The image below shows how EPS has tracked over time (if you click on the image you can see greater detail).

earnings-per-share-growth
ASX:GWA Earnings Per Share Growth December 30th 2021

Dive deeper into GWA Group's key metrics by checking this interactive graph of GWA Group's earnings, revenue and cash flow.

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. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. We note that for GWA Group the TSR over the last 1 year was -17%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. And there's no prize for guessing that the dividend payments largely explain the divergence!

A Different Perspective

GWA Group shareholders are down 17% for the year (even including dividends), but the market itself is up 19%. 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. On the bright side, long term shareholders have made money, with a gain of 4% per year over half a decade. 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. Case in point: We've spotted 1 warning sign for GWA Group you should be aware of.

Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking elsewhere. So take a peek at this free list of companies we expect will grow earnings.

Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on AU exchanges.

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