It's easy to match the overall market return by buying an index fund. While individual stocks can be big winners, plenty more fail to generate satisfactory returns. For example, the Mattioli Woods plc (LON:MTW) share price is down 27% in the last year. That's disappointing when you consider the market declined 2.4%. However, the longer term returns haven't been so bad, with the stock down 14% in the last three years.
So let's have a look and see if the longer term performance of the company has been in line with the underlying business' progress.
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 last year Mattioli Woods grew its earnings per share, moving from a loss to a profit.
The company was close to break-even last year, so earnings per share of UK£0.081 strike us as less than amazing. And judging by the share price, the market is not too happy about it, either. Given the improvement, though, contrarian investors might want to take a closer look.
The graphic below depicts how EPS has changed over time (unveil the exact values by clicking on the image).
It's probably worth noting we've seen significant insider buying in the last quarter, which we consider a positive. That said, we think earnings and revenue growth trends are even more important factors to consider. Before buying or selling a stock, we always recommend a close examination of historic growth trends, available here..
What About Dividends?
As well as measuring the share price return, investors should also consider the total shareholder return (TSR). 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. We note that for Mattioli Woods the TSR over the last 1 year was -24%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!
A Different Perspective
While the broader market lost about 2.4% in the twelve months, Mattioli Woods shareholders did even worse, losing 24% (even including dividends). Having said that, it's inevitable that some stocks will be oversold in a falling market. The key is to keep your eyes on the fundamental developments. Unfortunately, last year's performance may indicate unresolved challenges, given that it was worse than the annualised loss of 1.3% over the last half decade. Generally speaking long term share price weakness can be a bad sign, though contrarian investors might want to research the stock in hope of a turnaround. 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. Consider for instance, the ever-present spectre of investment risk. We've identified 2 warning signs with Mattioli Woods (at least 1 which is a bit concerning) , and understanding them should be part of your investment process.
Mattioli Woods is not the only stock insiders are buying. So take a peek at this free list of growing companies with insider buying.
Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on GB exchanges.
Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.
This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. 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.
Join A Paid User Research Session
You’ll receive a US$30 Amazon Gift card for 1 hour of your time while helping us build better investing tools for the individual investors like yourself. Sign up here