Investors Who Bought Imperial Brands (LON:IMB) Shares Three Years Ago Are Now Down 30%

As an investor its worth striving to ensure your overall portfolio beats the market average. 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 Imperial Brands PLC (LON:IMB) shareholders, since the share price is down 30% in the last three years, falling well short of the market return of around 30%. The silver lining is that the stock is up 2.4% in about a week.

See our latest analysis for Imperial Brands

To paraphrase Benjamin Graham: Over the short term the market is a voting machine, but over the long term it’s a weighing machine. 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.

Imperial Brands saw its EPS decline at a compound rate of 6.8% per year, over the last three years. The share price decline of 11% is actually steeper than the EPS slippage. So it seems the market was too confident about the business, in the past.

The graphic below depicts how EPS has changed over time (unveil the exact values by clicking on the image).

LSE:IMB Past and Future Earnings, March 12th 2019
LSE:IMB Past and Future Earnings, March 12th 2019

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. Dive deeper into the earnings by checking this interactive graph of Imperial Brands’s earnings, revenue and cash flow.

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. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. As it happens, Imperial Brands’s TSR for the last 3 years was -17%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.

A Different Perspective

We’re pleased to report that Imperial Brands shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 10% over one year. And that does include the dividend. Since the one-year TSR is better than the five-year TSR (the latter coming in at 7.0% 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 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.

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 GB exchanges.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. 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. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.