Passive investing in an index fund is a good way to ensure your own returns roughly match the overall market. But if you buy individual stocks, you can do both better or worse than that. That downside risk was realized by XPS Pensions Group Plc (LON:XPS) shareholders over the last year, as the share price declined 35%. That's well bellow the market return of 2.9%. We wouldn't rush to judgement on XPS Pensions Group because we don't have a long term history to look at. Shareholders have had an even rougher run lately, with the share price down 27% in the last 90 days.
In his essay The Superinvestors of Graham-and-Doddsville Warren Buffett described how share prices do not always rationally reflect the value of a business. 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.
During the last year XPS Pensions Group grew its earnings per share, moving from a loss to a profit. Earnings per share growth rates aren't particularly useful for comparing with the share price, when a company has moved from loss to profit. So it makes sense to check out some other factors.
XPS Pensions Group's dividend seems healthy to us, so we doubt that the yield is a concern for the market. The revenue trend doesn't seem to explain why the share price is down. Unless, of course, the market was expecting a revenue uptick.
It's probably worth noting we've seen significant insider buying in the last quarter, which we consider a positive. That said, we think earnings and revenue growth trends are even more important factors to consider. So it makes a lot of sense to check out what analysts think XPS Pensions Group will earn in the future (free profit forecasts).
What About Dividends?
When looking at investment returns, it is important to consider the difference between total shareholder return (TSR) and share price return. 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. We note that for XPS Pensions Group the TSR over the last year was -32%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. And there's no prize for guessing that the dividend payments largely explain the divergence!
A Different Perspective
While XPS Pensions Group shareholders are down 32% for the year (even including dividends), the market itself is up 2.9%. However, keep in mind that even the best stocks will sometimes underperform the market over a twelve month period. The share price decline has continued throughout the most recent three months, down 27%, suggesting an absence of enthusiasm from investors. Basically, most investors should be wary of buying into a poor-performing stock, unless the business itself has clearly improved. 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.
XPS Pensions Group 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 GB exchanges.
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