Did Changing Sentiment Drive United Carpets Group’s Share Price Down A Worrying 57%?

Many investors define successful investing as beating the market average over the long term. But in any portfolio, there are likely to be some stocks that fall short of that benchmark. Unfortunately, that’s been the case for longer term United Carpets Group plc (LON:UCG) shareholders, since the share price is down 57% in the last three years, falling well short of the market return of around 31%. The more recent news is of little comfort, with the share price down 39% in a year. The falls have accelerated recently, with the share price down 29% in the last three months.

See our latest analysis for United Carpets Group

While the efficient markets hypothesis continues to be taught by some, it has been proven that markets are over-reactive dynamic systems, and investors are not always rational. 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.

United Carpets Group saw its EPS decline at a compound rate of 11% per year, over the last three years. The share price decline of 25% is actually steeper than the EPS slippage. So it seems the market was too confident about the business, in the past. This increased caution is also evident in the rather low P/E ratio, which is sitting at 4.57.

You can see below how EPS has changed over time (discover the exact values by clicking on the image).

AIM:UCG Past and Future Earnings, February 28th 2019
AIM:UCG Past and Future Earnings, February 28th 2019

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. Whereas the share price return only reflects the change in the share price, the TSR includes the value of dividends (assuming they were reinvested) and the benefit of any discounted capital raising. Arguably, the TSR gives a more comprehensive picture of the return generated by a stock. As it happens, United Carpets Group’s TSR for the last 3 years was -46%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!

A Different Perspective

Investors in United Carpets Group had a tough year, with a total loss of 35% (including dividends), against a market gain of about 1.0%. Even the share prices of good stocks drop sometimes, but we want to see improvements in the fundamental metrics of a business, before getting too interested. Unfortunately, last year’s performance may indicate unresolved challenges, given that it was worse than the annualised loss of 4.9% over the last half decade. Generally speaking long term share price weakness can be a bad sign, though contrarian investors might want to research the stock in hope of a turnaround. Importantly, we haven’t analysed United Carpets Group’s dividend history. This free visual report on its dividends is a must-read if you’re thinking of buying.

Of course United Carpets Group may not be the best stock to buy. So you may wish to see this free collection of growth stocks.

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.