While not a mind-blowing move, it is good to see that the South Jersey Industries, Inc. (NYSE:SJI) share price has gained 14% in the last three months. But that cannot eclipse the less-than-impressive returns over the last three years. In fact, the share price is down 17% in the last three years, falling well short of the market return.
While the efficient markets hypothesis continues to be taught by some, it has been proven that markets are over-reactive dynamic systems, and investors are not always rational. One way to examine how market sentiment has changed over time is to look at the interaction between a company's share price and its earnings per share (EPS).
During five years of share price growth, South Jersey Industries moved from a loss to profitability. We would usually expect to see the share price rise as a result. So it's worth looking at other metrics to try to understand the share price move.
We note that the dividend seems healthy enough, so that probably doesn't explain the share price drop. We like that South Jersey Industries has actually grown its revenue over the last three years. But it's not clear to us why the share price is down. It might be worth diving deeper into the fundamentals, lest an opportunity goes begging.
The company's revenue and earnings (over time) are depicted in the image below (click to see the exact numbers).
We know that South Jersey Industries has improved its bottom line over the last three years, but what does the future have in store? You can see how its balance sheet has strengthened (or weakened) over time in this free interactive graphic.
What About Dividends?
It is important to consider the total shareholder return, as well as the share price return, for any given stock. 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. In the case of South Jersey Industries, it has a TSR of -5.9% for the last 3 years. That exceeds its share price return that we previously mentioned. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.
A Different Perspective
While the broader market gained around 58% in the last year, South Jersey Industries shareholders lost 2.8% (even including dividends). However, keep in mind that even the best stocks will sometimes underperform the market over a twelve month period. On the bright side, long term shareholders have made money, with a gain of 1.6% per year over half a decade. If the fundamental data continues to indicate long term sustainable growth, the current sell-off could be an opportunity worth considering. 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. To that end, you should learn about the 2 warning signs we've spotted with South Jersey Industries (including 1 which can't be ignored) .
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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