Earnings growth of 1.6% over 5 years hasn't been enough to translate into positive returns for Mullen Group (TSE:MTL) shareholders

By
Simply Wall St
Published
April 12, 2022
TSX:MTL
Source: Shutterstock

Mullen Group Ltd. (TSE:MTL) shareholders should be happy to see the share price up 15% in the last quarter. But if you look at the last five years the returns have not been good. You would have done a lot better buying an index fund, since the stock has dropped 24% in that half decade.

Since Mullen Group has shed CA$69m from its value in the past 7 days, let's see if the longer term decline has been driven by the business' economics.

See our latest analysis for Mullen Group

While markets are a powerful pricing mechanism, share prices reflect investor sentiment, not just underlying business performance. One flawed but reasonable way to assess how sentiment around a company has changed is to compare the earnings per share (EPS) with the share price.

During five years of share price growth, Mullen Group moved from a loss to profitability. Most would consider that to be a good thing, so it's counter-intuitive to see the share price declining. Other metrics might give us a better handle on how its value is changing over time.

We note that the dividend has remained healthy, so that wouldn't really explain the share price drop. 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 below how earnings and revenue have changed over time (discover the exact values by clicking on the image).

earnings-and-revenue-growth
TSX:MTL Earnings and Revenue Growth April 12th 2022

We consider it positive that insiders have made significant purchases in the last year. Having said that, most people consider earnings and revenue growth trends to be a more meaningful guide to the business. If you are thinking of buying or selling Mullen Group stock, you should check out this free report showing analyst profit forecasts.

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 Mullen Group, it has a TSR of -6.0% for the last 5 years. That exceeds its share price return that we previously mentioned. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.

A Different Perspective

Mullen Group provided a TSR of 8.4% over the last twelve months. But that return falls short of the market. On the bright side, that's still a gain, and it is certainly better than the yearly loss of about 1.2% endured over half a decade. It could well be that the business is stabilizing. 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. Consider risks, for instance. Every company has them, and we've spotted 3 warning signs for Mullen Group you should know about.

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 CA exchanges.

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