Stock pickers are generally looking for stocks that will outperform the broader market. And while active stock picking involves risks (and requires diversification) it can also provide excess returns. For example, long term The Hong Kong and China Gas Company Limited (HKG:3) shareholders have enjoyed a 30% share price rise over the last half decade, well in excess of the market return of around 14% (not including dividends). However, more recent returns haven't been as impressive as that, with the stock returning just 25% in the last year , including dividends .
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.
During five years of share price growth, Hong Kong and China Gas actually saw its EPS drop 3.8% per year.
So it's hard to argue that the earnings per share are the best metric to judge the company, as it may not be optimized for profits at this point. Therefore, it's worth taking a look at other metrics to try to understand the share price movements.
On the other hand, Hong Kong and China Gas' revenue is growing nicely, at a compound rate of 8.6% over the last five years. It's quite possible that management are prioritizing revenue growth over EPS growth at the moment.
You can see below how earnings and revenue have changed over time (discover the exact values by clicking on the image).
We like that insiders have been buying shares in the last twelve months. Having said that, most people consider earnings and revenue growth trends to be a more meaningful guide to the business. If you are thinking of buying or selling Hong Kong and China Gas stock, you should check out this free report showing analyst profit forecasts.
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. In the case of Hong Kong and China Gas, it has a TSR of 46% for the last 5 years. That exceeds its share price return that we previously mentioned. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.
A Different Perspective
It's nice to see that Hong Kong and China Gas shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 25% over the last year. Of course, that includes the dividend. Since the one-year TSR is better than the five-year TSR (the latter coming in at 8% per year), it would seem that the stock's performance has improved in recent times. Given the share price momentum remains strong, it might be worth taking a closer look at the stock, lest you miss an opportunity. 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. Even so, be aware that Hong Kong and China Gas is showing 2 warning signs in our investment analysis , you should know about...
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.
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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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