Leonardo S.p.a. (BIT:LDO) shareholders should be happy to see the share price up 15% in the last quarter. But if you look at the last five years the returns have not been good. In fact, the share price is down 38%, which falls well short of the return you could get by buying an index fund.
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).
During the unfortunate half decade during which the share price slipped, Leonardo actually saw its earnings per share (EPS) improve by 1.0% 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). Alternatively, growth expectations may have been unreasonable in the past.
Based on these numbers, we'd venture that the market may have been over-optimistic about forecast growth, half a decade ago. Having said that, we might get a better idea of what's going on with the stock by looking at other metrics.
In contrast to the share price, revenue has actually increased by 2.3% a year in the five year period. A more detailed examination of the revenue and earnings may or may not explain why the share price languishes; there could be an opportunity.
You can see below how earnings and revenue have changed over time (discover the exact values by clicking on the image).
Leonardo is well known by investors, and plenty of clever analysts have tried to predict the future profit levels. Given we have quite a good number of analyst forecasts, it might be well worth checking out this free chart depicting consensus estimates.
What about the Total Shareholder Return (TSR)?
We'd be remiss not to mention the difference between Leonardo's total shareholder return (TSR) and its share price return. Arguably the TSR is a more complete return calculation because it accounts for the value of dividends (as if they were reinvested), along with the hypothetical value of any discounted capital that have been offered to shareholders. Dividends have been really beneficial for Leonardo shareholders, and that cash payout explains why its total shareholder loss of 34%, over the last 5 years, isn't as bad as the share price return.
A Different Perspective
Leonardo shareholders are up 15% for the year. But that return falls short of the market. On the bright side, that's still a gain, and it is certainly better than the yearly loss of about 6% endured over half a decade. So this might be a sign the business has turned its fortunes around. 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. Like risks, for instance. Every company has them, and we've spotted 3 warning signs for Leonardo (of which 1 is a bit concerning!) you should know about.
If you would prefer to check out another company -- one with potentially superior financials -- then do not miss this free list of companies that have proven they can grow earnings.
Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on IT exchanges.
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