Generally speaking long term investing is the way to go. But that doesn't mean long term investors can avoid big losses. For example, after five long years the China Communications Construction Company Limited (HKG:1800) share price is a whole 60% lower. We certainly feel for shareholders who bought near the top. But it's up 8.7% in the last week.
Although the past week has been more reassuring for shareholders, they're still in the red over the last five years, so let's see if the underlying business has been responsible for the decline.
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. 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).
While the share price declined over five years, China Communications Construction actually managed to increase EPS by an average of 2.9% per year. Given the share price reaction, one might suspect that EPS is not a good guide to the business performance during the period (perhaps due to a one-off loss or gain). Or possibly, the market was previously very optimistic, so the stock has disappointed, despite improving EPS.
By glancing at these numbers, we'd posit that the the market had expectations of much higher growth, five years ago. Having said that, we might get a better idea of what's going on with the stock by looking at other metrics.
The steady dividend doesn't really explain why the share price is down. While it's not completely obvious why the share price is down, a closer look at the company's history might help explain it.
You can see how earnings and revenue have changed over time in the image below (click on the chart to see the exact values).
China Communications Construction is well known by investors, and plenty of clever analysts have tried to predict the future profit levels. If you are thinking of buying or selling China Communications Construction stock, you should check out this free report showing analyst consensus estimates for future profits.
What About Dividends?
As well as measuring the share price return, investors should also consider the total shareholder return (TSR). 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 or spin-off. Arguably, the TSR gives a more comprehensive picture of the return generated by a stock. We note that for China Communications Construction the TSR over the last 5 years was -50%, 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
It's nice to see that China Communications Construction shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 26% over the last year. That's including the dividend. There's no doubt those recent returns are much better than the TSR loss of 8% per year over five years. We generally put more weight on the long term performance over the short term, but the recent improvement could hint at a (positive) inflection point within the business. It's always interesting to track share price performance over the longer term. But to understand China Communications Construction better, we need to consider many other factors. Case in point: We've spotted 2 warning signs for China Communications Construction you should be aware of, and 1 of them is significant.
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 HK exchanges.
This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. 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.