While it may not be enough for some shareholders, we think it is good to see the Seplat Petroleum Development Company Plc (LON:SEPL) share price up 15% in a single quarter. But that cannot eclipse the less-than-impressive returns over the last three years. After all, the share price is down 42% in the last three years, significantly under-performing the market.
To paraphrase Benjamin Graham: Over the short term the market is a voting machine, but over the long term it's a weighing machine. One imperfect but simple way to consider how the market perception of a company has shifted is to compare the change in the earnings per share (EPS) with the share price movement.
Over the three years that the share price declined, Seplat Petroleum Development's earnings per share (EPS) dropped significantly, falling to a loss. Since the company has fallen to a loss making position, it's hard to compare the change in EPS with the share price change. But it's safe to say we'd generally expect the share price to be lower as a result!
The graphic below depicts how EPS has changed over time (unveil the exact values by clicking on the image).
Before buying or selling a stock, we always recommend a close examination of historic growth trends, available here.
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. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. As it happens, Seplat Petroleum Development's TSR for the last 3 years was -26%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. And there's no prize for guessing that the dividend payments largely explain the divergence!
A Different Perspective
It's nice to see that Seplat Petroleum Development shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 43% over the last year. And that does include the dividend. Since the one-year TSR is better than the five-year TSR (the latter coming in at 0.3% per year), it would seem that the stock's performance has improved in recent times. Someone with an optimistic perspective could view the recent improvement in TSR as indicating that the business itself is getting better with time. It's always interesting to track share price performance over the longer term. But to understand Seplat Petroleum Development better, we need to consider many other factors. For instance, we've identified 3 warning signs for Seplat Petroleum Development (1 doesn't sit too well with us) that you should be aware of.
If you would prefer to check out another company -- one with potentially superior financials -- then do not miss this free list of companies that have proven they can grow earnings.
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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