The three-year underlying earnings growth at Cogeco (TSE:CGO) is promising, but the shareholders are still in the red over that time
For many investors, the main point of stock picking is to generate higher returns than the overall market. But if you try your hand at stock picking, your risk returning less than the market. We regret to report that long term Cogeco Inc. (TSE:CGO) shareholders have had that experience, with the share price dropping 31% in three years, versus a market return of about 81%. The more recent news is of little comfort, with the share price down 29% in a year.
If the past week is anything to go by, investor sentiment for Cogeco isn't positive, so let's see if there's a mismatch between fundamentals and the share price.
See our latest analysis for Cogeco
While the efficient markets hypothesis continues to be taught by some, it has been proven that markets are over-reactive dynamic systems, and investors are not always rational. 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).
Although the share price is down over three years, Cogeco actually managed to grow EPS by 32% per year in that time. Given the share price reaction, one might suspect that EPS is not a good guide to the business performance during the period (perhaps due to a one-off loss or gain). Or else the company was over-hyped in the past, and so its growth has disappointed.
It's worth taking a look at other metrics, because the EPS growth doesn't seem to match with the falling share price.
We note that the dividend seems healthy enough, so that probably doesn't explain the share price drop. We like that Cogeco has actually grown its revenue over the last three years. But it's not clear to us why the share price is down. It might be worth diving deeper into the fundamentals, lest an opportunity goes begging.
The graphic below depicts how earnings and revenue have changed over time (unveil the exact values by clicking on the image).
It is of course excellent to see how Cogeco has grown profits over the years, but the future is more important for shareholders. Take a more thorough look at Cogeco's financial health with this free report on its balance sheet.
What About Dividends?
It is important to consider the total shareholder return, as well as the share price return, for any given stock. 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. Arguably, the TSR gives a more comprehensive picture of the return generated by a stock. In the case of Cogeco, it has a TSR of -24% for the last 3 years. 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
While the broader market lost about 5.4% in the twelve months, Cogeco shareholders did even worse, losing 26% (even including dividends). Having said that, it's inevitable that some stocks will be oversold in a falling market. The key is to keep your eyes on the fundamental developments. Regrettably, last year's performance caps off a bad run, with the shareholders facing a total loss of 1.8% 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. 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. Take risks, for example - Cogeco has 1 warning sign we think 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 CA exchanges.
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This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.
Cogeco Inc., through its subsidiaries, operates in the communications and media sectors in Canada and the United States.
Undervalued established dividend payer.