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Buying a low-cost index fund will get you the average market return. But if you invest in individual stocks, some are likely to underperform. Unfortunately for shareholders, while the ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP) share price is up 34% in the last three years, that falls short of the market return. Disappointingly, the share price is down 4.4% in the last year.
To quote Buffett, ‘Ships will sail around the world but the Flat Earth Society will flourish. There will continue to be wide discrepancies between price and value in the marketplace…’ One flawed but reasonable way to assess how sentiment around a company has changed is to compare the earnings per share (EPS) with the share price.
ConocoPhillips became profitable within the last three years. That would generally be considered a positive, so we’d expect the share price to be up.
You can see how EPS has changed over time in the image below (click on the chart to see the exact values).
We know that ConocoPhillips has improved its bottom line over the last three years, but what does the future have in store? It might be well worthwhile taking a look at our free report on how its financial position has changed over time.
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 incorporates the value of any spin-offs or discounted capital raisings, along with any dividends, based on the assumption that the dividends are reinvested. It’s fair to say that the TSR gives a more complete picture for stocks that pay a dividend. As it happens, ConocoPhillips’s TSR for the last 3 years was 42%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!
A Different Perspective
While the broader market gained around 12% in the last year, ConocoPhillips shareholders lost 2.7% (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. Regrettably, last year’s performance caps off a bad run, with the shareholders facing a total loss of 1.2% per year over five years. We realise that Buffett 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 businesses. If you would like to research ConocoPhillips in more detail then you might want to take a look at whether insiders have been buying or selling shares in the company.
But note: ConocoPhillips may not be the best stock to buy. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with past earnings growth (and further growth forecast).Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on US exchanges.
We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.
If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at email@example.com. 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. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.