Many investors define successful investing as beating the market average over the long term. But if you try your hand at stock picking, your risk returning less than the market. Unfortunately, that's been the case for longer term Inspired Energy PLC (LON:INSE) shareholders, since the share price is down 35% in the last three years, falling well short of the market decline of around 3.8%. And more recent buyers are having a tough time too, with a drop of 33% in the last year.
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 the three years that the share price fell, Inspired Energy's earnings per share (EPS) dropped by 33% each year. This fall in the EPS is worse than the 13% compound annual share price fall. This suggests that the market retains some optimism around long term earnings stability, despite past EPS declines. With a P/E ratio of 61.27, it's fair to say the market sees a brighter future for the business.
You can see how EPS has changed over time in the image below (click on the chart to see the exact values).
Before buying or selling a stock, we always recommend a close examination of historic growth trends, available here.
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. It's fair to say that the TSR gives a more complete picture for stocks that pay a dividend. In the case of Inspired Energy, it has a TSR of -29% for the last 3 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
We regret to report that Inspired Energy shareholders are down 32% for the year (even including dividends). Unfortunately, that's worse than the broader market decline of 2.5%. 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. Longer term investors wouldn't be so upset, since they would have made 2%, 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. While it is well worth considering the different impacts that market conditions can have on the share price, there are other factors that are even more important. Like risks, for instance. Every company has them, and we've spotted 3 warning signs for Inspired Energy (of which 1 is a bit unpleasant!) you should know about.
We will like Inspired Energy better if we see some big insider buys. While we wait, check out this free list of growing companies with considerable, recent, insider buying.
Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on GB exchanges.
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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. 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.
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