If you buy and hold a stock for many years, you'd hope to be making a profit. Furthermore, you'd generally like to see the share price rise faster than the market. But Vector Limited (NZSE:VCT) has fallen short of that second goal, with a share price rise of 29% over five years, which is below the market return. Zooming in, the stock is actually down 8.1% in the last year.
Now it's worth having a look at the company's fundamentals too, because that will help us determine if the long term shareholder return has matched the performance of the underlying business.
To paraphrase Benjamin Graham: Over the short term the market is a voting machine, but over the long term it's a weighing machine. One imperfect but simple way to consider how the market perception of a company has shifted is to compare the change in the earnings per share (EPS) with the share price movement.
Over half a decade, Vector managed to grow its earnings per share at 28% a year. The EPS growth is more impressive than the yearly share price gain of 5% over the same period. So one could conclude that the broader market has become more cautious towards the stock.
The company's earnings per share (over time) is depicted in the image below (click to see the exact numbers).
We know that Vector has improved its bottom line lately, but is it going to grow revenue? You could check out this free report showing analyst revenue forecasts.
What About Dividends?
As well as measuring the share price return, investors should also consider the total shareholder return (TSR). The TSR incorporates the value of any spin-offs or discounted capital raisings, along with any dividends, based on the assumption that the dividends are reinvested. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. We note that for Vector the TSR over the last 5 years was 63%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!
A Different Perspective
While the broader market gained around 11% in the last year, Vector shareholders lost 6.1% (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 10%, 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. It's always interesting to track share price performance over the longer term. But to understand Vector better, we need to consider many other factors. Case in point: We've spotted 3 warning signs for Vector you should be aware of, and 2 of them are significant.
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 NZ exchanges.
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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.
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