Sinotrans Limited (HKG:598) shareholders will doubtless be very grateful to see the share price up 52% in the last quarter. But if you look at the last five years the returns have not been good. You would have done a lot better buying an index fund, since the stock has dropped 44% in that half decade.
There is no denying that markets are sometimes efficient, but prices do not always reflect underlying business performance. 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, Sinotrans actually managed to increase EPS by an average of 5.6% 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.
Due to the lack of correlation between the EPS growth and the falling share price, it's worth taking a look at other metrics to try to understand the share price movement.
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.
The company's revenue and earnings (over time) are depicted in the image below (click to see the exact numbers).
It's probably worth noting that the CEO is paid less than the median at similar sized companies. It's always worth keeping an eye on CEO pay, but a more important question is whether the company will grow earnings throughout the years. This free report showing analyst forecasts should help you form a view on Sinotrans
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. Arguably, the TSR gives a more comprehensive picture of the return generated by a stock. As it happens, Sinotrans' TSR for the last 5 years was -30%, 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
Sinotrans shareholders are up 9.9% for the year (even including dividends). But that was short of the market average. But at least that's still a gain! Over five years the TSR has been a reduction of 5% per year, over five years. It could well be that the business is stabilizing. While it is well worth considering the different impacts that market conditions can have on the share price, there are other factors that are even more important. Consider risks, for instance. Every company has them, and we've spotted 3 warning signs for Sinotrans you should know about.
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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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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