Ideally, your overall portfolio should beat the market average. But even the best stock picker will only win with some selections. At this point some shareholders may be questioning their investment in Telephone and Data Systems, Inc. (NYSE:TDS), since the last five years saw the share price fall 29%. Unhappily, the share price slid 2.3% in the last week.
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 the unfortunate half decade during which the share price slipped, Telephone and Data Systems actually saw its earnings per share (EPS) improve by 20% per year. So it doesn't seem like EPS is a great guide to understanding how the market is valuing the stock. Alternatively, growth expectations may have been unreasonable in the past.
Due to the lack of correlation between the EPS growth and the falling share price, it's worth taking a look at other metrics to try to understand the share price movement.
In contrast to the share price, revenue has actually increased by 0.4% a year in the five year period. So it seems one might have to take closer look at the fundamentals to understand why the share price languishes. After all, there may be an opportunity.
The image below shows how earnings and revenue have tracked over time (if you click on the image you can see greater detail).
We know that Telephone and Data Systems has improved its bottom line lately, but what does the future have in store? You can see what analysts are predicting for Telephone and Data Systems in this interactive graph of future profit estimates.
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. It's fair to say that the TSR gives a more complete picture for stocks that pay a dividend. In the case of Telephone and Data Systems, it has a TSR of -19% for the last 5 years. That exceeds its share price return that we previously mentioned. And there's no prize for guessing that the dividend payments largely explain the divergence!
A Different Perspective
Telephone and Data Systems provided a TSR of 19% over the last twelve months. But that return falls short of the market. But at least that's still a gain! Over five years the TSR has been a reduction of 4% per year, over five years. So this might be a sign the business has turned its fortunes around. 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. For example, we've discovered 3 warning signs for Telephone and Data Systems (2 shouldn't be ignored!) that you should be aware of before investing here.
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 US 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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