In order to justify the effort of selecting individual stocks, it’s worth striving to beat the returns from a market index fund. But even the best stock picker will only win with some selections. So we wouldn’t blame long term Inter Pipeline Ltd. (TSE:IPL) shareholders for doubting their decision to hold, with the stock down 34% over a half decade.
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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.
Inter Pipeline became profitable within the last five years. That would generally be considered a positive, so we are surprised to see the share price is down. Other metrics may better explain the share price move.
The steady dividend doesn’t really explain why the share price is down. 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 revenue and earnings have changed over time in the image below, (click on the chart to see cashflow).
It’s probably worth noting we’ve seen significant insider buying in the last quarter, which we consider a positive. That said, we think earnings and revenue growth trends are even more important factors to consider. You can see what analysts are predicting for Inter Pipeline in this interactive graph of future profit estimates.
What About Dividends?
As well as measuring the share price return, investors should also consider the total shareholder return (TSR). Whereas the share price return only reflects the change in the share price, the TSR includes the value of dividends (assuming they were reinvested) and the benefit of any discounted capital raising or spin-off. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. In the case of Inter Pipeline, it has a TSR of -11% for the last 5 years. That exceeds its share price return that we previously mentioned. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!
A Different Perspective
Inter Pipeline shareholders are down 6.2% for the year (even including dividends), but the market itself is up 2.1%. 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. Unfortunately, last year’s performance may indicate unresolved challenges, given that it was worse than the annualised loss of 2.3% over the last half decade. 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.
There are plenty of other companies that have insiders buying up shares. You probably do not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying.
Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on CA 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.