In order to justify the effort of selecting individual stocks, it's worth striving to beat the returns from a market index fund. But its virtually certain that sometimes you will buy stocks that fall short of the market average returns. Unfortunately, that's been the case for longer term Tesco PLC (LON:TSCO) shareholders, since the share price is down 29% in the last three years, falling well short of the market return of around 14%. The good news is that the stock is up 1.4% in the last week.
To quote Buffett, 'Ships will sail around the world but the Flat Earth Society will flourish. There will continue to be wide discrepancies between price and value in the marketplace...' 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).
Tesco saw its EPS decline at a compound rate of 15% per year, over the last three years. In comparison the 11% compound annual share price decline isn't as bad as the EPS drop-off. This suggests that the market retains some optimism around long term earnings stability, despite past EPS declines.
You can see how EPS has changed over time in the image below (click on the chart to see the exact values).
It's good to see that there was some significant insider buying in the last three months. That's a positive. That said, we think earnings and revenue growth trends are even more important factors to consider. This free interactive report on Tesco's earnings, revenue and cash flow is a great place to start, if you want to investigate the stock further.
What About Dividends?
As well as measuring the share price return, investors should also consider the total shareholder return (TSR). The TSR is a return calculation that accounts for the value of cash dividends (assuming that any dividend received was reinvested) and the calculated value of any discounted capital raisings and spin-offs. Arguably, the TSR gives a more comprehensive picture of the return generated by a stock. In the case of Tesco, it has a TSR of 0.4% 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
Tesco shareholders are up 6.5% for the year (even including dividends). Unfortunately this falls short of the market return. It's probably a good sign that the company has an even better long term track record, having provided shareholders with an annual TSR of 9% over five years. It's quite possible the business continues to execute with prowess, even as the share price gains are slowing. 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. To that end, you should learn about the 3 warning signs we've spotted with Tesco (including 1 which is potentially serious) .
Tesco is not the only stock that insiders are buying. For those who like to find winning investments this free list of growing companies with recent insider purchasing, could be just the ticket.
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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