Positive earnings growth hasn't been enough to get V.F (NYSE:VFC) shareholders a favorable return over the last three years

By
Simply Wall St
Published
March 21, 2022
NYSE:VFC
Source: Shutterstock

Many investors define successful investing as beating the market average over the long term. But in any portfolio, there are likely to be some stocks that fall short of that benchmark. Unfortunately, that's been the case for longer term V.F. Corporation (NYSE:VFC) shareholders, since the share price is down 31% in the last three years, falling well short of the market return of around 66%. And more recent buyers are having a tough time too, with a drop of 28% in the last year. Furthermore, it's down 16% in about a quarter. That's not much fun for holders.

On a more encouraging note the company has added US$1.6b to its market cap in just the last 7 days, so let's see if we can determine what's driven the three-year loss for shareholders.

See our latest analysis for V.F

In his essay The Superinvestors of Graham-and-Doddsville Warren Buffett described how share prices do not always rationally reflect the value of a business. 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.

During five years of share price growth, V.F moved from a loss to profitability. We would usually expect to see the share price rise as a result. So given the share price is down it's worth checking some other metrics too.

The company has kept revenue pretty healthy over the last three years, so we doubt that explains the falling share price. There doesn't seem to be any clear correlation between the fundamental business metrics and the share price. That could mean that the stock was previously overrated, or it could spell opportunity now.

The image below shows how earnings and revenue have tracked over time (if you click on the image you can see greater detail).

earnings-and-revenue-growth
NYSE:VFC Earnings and Revenue Growth March 21st 2022

It's probably worth noting we've seen significant insider buying in the last quarter, which we consider a positive. On the other hand, we think the revenue and earnings trends are much more meaningful measures of the business. This free report showing analyst forecasts should help you form a view on V.F

What About Dividends?

It is important to consider the total shareholder return, as well as the share price return, for any given stock. 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. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. We note that for V.F the TSR over the last 3 years was -21%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. And there's no prize for guessing that the dividend payments largely explain the divergence!

A Different Perspective

V.F shareholders are down 26% for the year (even including dividends), but the market itself is up 6.0%. 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 5%, each year, over five years. If the fundamental data continues to indicate long term sustainable growth, the current sell-off could be an opportunity worth considering. 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. Like risks, for instance. Every company has them, and we've spotted 3 warning signs for V.F (of which 1 is a bit unpleasant!) you should know about.

V.F is not the only stock that insiders are buying. For those who like to find winning investments this free list of growing companies with recent insider purchasing, could be just the ticket.

Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on US exchanges.

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