Some Suncor Energy (TSE:SU) Shareholders Are Down 18%

Passive investing in an index fund is a good way to ensure your own returns roughly match the overall market. Active investors aim to buy stocks that vastly outperform the market – but in the process, they risk under-performance. Unfortunately the Suncor Energy Inc. (TSE:SU) share price slid 18% over twelve months. That contrasts poorly with the market return of 1.0%. Longer term investors have fared much better, since the share price is up 15% in three years. It’s down 4.5% in the last seven days.

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View our latest analysis for Suncor Energy

To paraphrase Benjamin Graham: Over the short term the market is a voting machine, but over the long term it’s a weighing machine. 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.

Even though the Suncor Energy share price is down over the year, its EPS actually improved. It could be that the share price was previously over-hyped. By glancing at these numbers, we’d posit that the the market had expectations of much higher growth, last year. But other metrics might shed some light on why the share price is down.

We don’t see any weakness in the Suncor Energy’s dividend so the steady payout can’t really explain the share price drop. The revenue trend doesn’t seem to explain why the share price is down. Of course, it could simply be that it simply fell short of the market consensus expectations.

The graphic below shows how revenue and earnings have changed as management guided the business forward. If you want to see cashflow, you can click on the chart.

TSX:SU Income Statement, May 24th 2019
TSX:SU Income Statement, May 24th 2019

We like that insiders have been buying shares in the last twelve months. Having said that, most people consider earnings and revenue growth trends to be a more meaningful guide to the business. This free report showing analyst forecasts should help you form a view on Suncor Energy

What About Dividends?

As well as measuring the share price return, investors should also consider the total shareholder return (TSR). 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. In the case of Suncor Energy, it has a TSR of -16% for the last year. That exceeds its share price return that we previously mentioned. And there’s no prize for guessing that the dividend payments largely explain the divergence!

A Different Perspective

Suncor Energy shareholders are down 16% for the year (even including dividends), but the market itself is up 1.0%. 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. Longer term investors wouldn’t be so upset, since they would have made 2.9%, each year, over five years. If the fundamental data continues to indicate long term sustainable growth, the current sell-off could be an opportunity worth considering. It is all well and good that insiders have been buying shares, but we suggest you check here to see what price insiders were buying at.

Suncor Energy is not the only stock insiders are buying. So take a peek at this free list of growing companies with insider 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 editorial-team@simplywallst.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. Thank you for reading.