Passive investing in an index fund is a good way to ensure your own returns roughly match the overall market. While individual stocks can be big winners, plenty more fail to generate satisfactory returns. Investors in Keystone Law Group plc (LON:KEYS) have tasted that bitter downside in the last year, as the share price dropped 32%. That falls noticeably short of the market decline of around 5.6%. Longer term investors have fared much better, since the share price is up 18% in three years. The falls have accelerated recently, with the share price down 19% in the last three months.
Now let's have a look at the company's fundamentals, and see if the long term shareholder return has matched the performance of the underlying business.
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 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 Keystone Law Group 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 surprising to see the share price fall so much, despite the improved EPS. So it's easy to justify a look at some other metrics.
Keystone Law Group managed to grow revenue over the last year, which is usually a real positive. Since the fundamental metrics don't readily explain the share price drop, there might be an opportunity if the market has overreacted.
You can see how earnings and revenue have changed over time in the image below (click on the chart to see the exact values).
It's probably worth noting that the CEO is paid less than the median at similar sized companies. It's always worth keeping an eye on CEO pay, but a more important question is whether the company will grow earnings throughout the years. You can see what analysts are predicting for Keystone Law Group in this interactive graph of future profit estimates.
What About Dividends?
As well as measuring the share price return, investors should also consider the total shareholder return (TSR). 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. Arguably, the TSR gives a more comprehensive picture of the return generated by a stock. In the case of Keystone Law Group, it has a TSR of -29% for the last 1 year. 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
Keystone Law Group shareholders are down 29% for the year (even including dividends), falling short of the market return. The market shed around 5.6%, no doubt weighing on the stock price. Investors are up over three years, booking 9% per year, much better than the more recent returns. The recent sell-off could be an opportunity if the business remains sound, so it may be worth checking the fundamental data for signs of a long-term growth trend. 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. To that end, you should be aware of the 1 warning sign we've spotted with Keystone Law Group .
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 GB exchanges.
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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.
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