Earnings growth of 2.1% over 3 years hasn't been enough to translate into positive returns for Tootsie Roll Industries (NYSE:TR) shareholders

By
Simply Wall St
Published
May 12, 2022
NYSE:TR
Source: Shutterstock

In order to justify the effort of selecting individual stocks, it's worth striving to beat the returns from a market index fund. But if you try your hand at stock picking, your risk returning less than the market. We regret to report that long term Tootsie Roll Industries, Inc. (NYSE:TR) shareholders have had that experience, with the share price dropping 12% in three years, versus a market return of about 41%. More recently, the share price has dropped a further 11% in a month. But this could be related to poor market conditions -- stocks are down 13% in the same time.

With the stock having lost 7.0% in the past week, it's worth taking a look at business performance and seeing if there's any red flags.

See our latest analysis for Tootsie Roll Industries

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.

During the unfortunate three years of share price decline, Tootsie Roll Industries actually saw its earnings per share (EPS) improve by 6.4% per year. This is quite a puzzle, and suggests there might be something temporarily buoying the share price. Alternatively, growth expectations may have been unreasonable in the past.

We're actually a quite surprised to see the share price down while EPS have grown strongly. Therefore, we should look at some other metrics to try to understand why the market is disappointed.

The modest 1.1% dividend yield is unlikely to be guiding the market view of the stock. With revenue flat over three years, it seems unlikely that the share price is reflecting the top line. We're not entirely sure why the share price is dropped, but it does seem likely investors have become less optimistic about the business.

You can see how earnings and revenue have changed over time in the image below (click on the chart to see the exact values).

earnings-and-revenue-growth
NYSE:TR Earnings and Revenue Growth May 12th 2022

Balance sheet strength is crucial. It might be well worthwhile taking a look at our free report on how its financial position has changed over time.

What About Dividends?

When looking at investment returns, it is important to consider the difference between total shareholder return (TSR) and share price return. 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. As it happens, Tootsie Roll Industries' TSR for the last 3 years was -9.1%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.

A Different Perspective

We're pleased to report that Tootsie Roll Industries shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 5.4% over one year. That's including the dividend. That's better than the annualised return of 2% over half a decade, implying that the company is doing better recently. Given the share price momentum remains strong, it might be worth taking a closer look at the stock, lest you miss an opportunity. It's always interesting to track share price performance over the longer term. But to understand Tootsie Roll Industries better, we need to consider many other factors. For instance, we've identified 1 warning sign for Tootsie Roll Industries that you should be aware of.

If you like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).

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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