The simplest way to benefit from a rising market is to buy an index fund. While individual stocks can be big winners, plenty more fail to generate satisfactory returns. Unfortunately the SoftBlue SA (WSE:SBE) share price slid 64% over twelve months. That falls noticeably short of the market return of around 42%. On the bright side, the stock is actually up 61% in the last three years. There was little comfort for shareholders in the last week as the price declined a further 3.1%.
While the efficient markets hypothesis continues to be taught by some, it has been proven that markets are over-reactive dynamic systems, and investors are not always rational. 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.
SoftBlue managed to increase earnings per share from a loss to a profit, over the last 12 months.
When a company has just transitioned to profitability, earnings per share growth is not always the best way to look at the share price action. So it makes sense to check out some other factors.
SoftBlue managed to grow revenue over the last year, which is usually a real positive. Since we can't easily explain the share price movement based on these metrics, it might be worth considering how market sentiment has changed towards the stock.
The image below shows how earnings and revenue have tracked over time (if you click on the image you can see greater detail).
This free interactive report on SoftBlue's balance sheet strength is a great place to start, if you want to investigate the stock further.
What about the Total Shareholder Return (TSR)?
Investors should note that there's a difference between SoftBlue's total shareholder return (TSR) and its share price change, which we've covered above. 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. We note that SoftBlue's TSR, at -44% is higher than its share price return of -64%. When you consider it hasn't been paying a dividend, this data suggests shareholders have benefitted from a spin-off, or had the opportunity to acquire attractively priced shares in a discounted capital raising.
A Different Perspective
Investors in SoftBlue had a tough year, with a total loss of 44%, against a market gain of about 42%. However, keep in mind that even the best stocks will sometimes underperform the market over a twelve month period. Regrettably, last year's performance caps off a bad run, with the shareholders facing a total loss of 4% per year over five years. We realise that Baron Rothschild has said investors should "buy when there is blood on the streets", but we caution that investors should first be sure they are buying a high quality business. 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. Case in point: We've spotted 4 warning signs for SoftBlue you should be aware of, and 2 of them shouldn't be ignored.
Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking elsewhere. So take a peek at this free list of companies we expect will grow earnings.
Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on PL 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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