Passive investing in an index fund is a good way to ensure your own returns roughly match the overall market. Active investors aim to buy stocks that vastly outperform the market - but in the process, they risk under-performance. That downside risk was realized by Easterly Government Properties, Inc. (NYSE:DEA) shareholders over the last year, as the share price declined 17%. That's disappointing when you consider the market returned 39%. Longer term investors have fared much better, since the share price is up 5.4% in three years. There was little comfort for shareholders in the last week as the price declined a further 4.5%.
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 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.
Even though the Easterly Government Properties share price is down over the year, its EPS actually improved. It's quite possible that growth expectations may have been unreasonable in the past.
It's fair to say that the share price does not seem to be reflecting the EPS growth. So it's easy to justify a look at some other metrics.
We don't see any weakness in the Easterly Government Properties' dividend so the steady payout can't really explain the share price drop. The revenue trend doesn't seem to explain why the share price is down. Unless, of course, the market was expecting a revenue uptick.
The graphic below depicts how earnings and revenue have changed over time (unveil the exact values by clicking on the image).
We know that Easterly Government Properties has improved its bottom line lately, but what does the future have in store? So it makes a lot of sense to check out what analysts think Easterly Government Properties will earn in the future (free profit forecasts).
What About Dividends?
As well as measuring the share price return, investors should also consider the total shareholder return (TSR). Whereas the share price return only reflects the change in the share price, the TSR includes the value of dividends (assuming they were reinvested) and the benefit of any discounted capital raising or spin-off. Arguably, the TSR gives a more comprehensive picture of the return generated by a stock. We note that for Easterly Government Properties the TSR over the last year was -13%, 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
While the broader market gained around 39% in the last year, Easterly Government Properties shareholders lost 13% (even including dividends). However, keep in mind that even the best stocks will sometimes underperform the market over a twelve month period. Longer term investors wouldn't be so upset, since they would have made 8%, 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. I find it very interesting to look at share price over the long term as a proxy for business performance. But to truly gain insight, we need to consider other information, too. Case in point: We've spotted 4 warning signs for Easterly Government Properties you should be aware of, and 1 of them is concerning.
But note: Easterly Government Properties 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.
If you’re looking to trade Easterly Government Properties, open an account with the lowest-cost* platform trusted by professionals, Interactive Brokers. Their clients from over 200 countries and territories trade stocks, options, futures, forex, bonds and funds worldwide from a single integrated account.
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.
*Interactive Brokers Rated Lowest Cost Broker by StockBrokers.com Annual Online Review 2020
Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.