In order to justify the effort of selecting individual stocks, it's worth striving to beat the returns from a market index fund. But its virtually certain that sometimes you will buy stocks that fall short of the market average returns. Unfortunately, that's been the case for longer term Poly Property Group Co., Limited (HKG:119) shareholders, since the share price is down 47% in the last three years, falling well short of the market decline of around 0.9%. More recently, the share price has dropped a further 8.9% in a month.
While markets are a powerful pricing mechanism, share prices reflect investor sentiment, not just underlying business performance. One flawed but reasonable way to assess how sentiment around a company has changed is to compare the earnings per share (EPS) with the share price.
During the unfortunate three years of share price decline, Poly Property Group actually saw its earnings per share (EPS) improve by 12% 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 else the company was over-hyped in the past, and so its growth has disappointed.
It's worth taking a look at other metrics, because the EPS growth doesn't seem to match with the falling share price.
Given the healthiness of the dividend payments, we doubt that they've concerned the market. We like that Poly Property Group has actually grown its revenue over the last three years. But it's not clear to us why the share price is down. It might be worth diving deeper into the fundamentals, lest an opportunity goes begging.
The graphic below depicts how earnings and revenue have changed over time (unveil the exact values by clicking on the image).
If you are thinking of buying or selling Poly Property Group stock, you should check out this FREE detailed report on its balance sheet.
What About Dividends?
As well as measuring the share price return, investors should also consider the total shareholder return (TSR). 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. We note that for Poly Property Group the TSR over the last 3 years was -38%, 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 the broader market gained around 11% in the last year, Poly Property Group shareholders lost 16% (even including dividends). 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. Longer term investors wouldn't be so upset, since they would have made 1.2%, each year, over five years. It could be that the recent sell-off is an opportunity, so it may be worth checking the fundamental data for signs of a long term growth trend. I find it very interesting to look at share price over the long term as a proxy for business performance. But to truly gain insight, we need to consider other information, too. For example, we've discovered 3 warning signs for Poly Property Group (1 shouldn't be ignored!) that you should be aware of before investing here.
If you are like me, then you will not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying.
Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on HK exchanges.
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