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Bega Cheese (ASX:BGA) investors are sitting on a loss of 30% if they invested three years ago

Bega Cheese Limited (ASX:BGA) shareholders should be happy to see the share price up 23% in the last quarter. But that doesn't help the fact that the three year return is less impressive. After all, the share price is down 35% in the last three years, significantly under-performing the market.

Since shareholders are down over the longer term, lets look at the underlying fundamentals over the that time and see if they've been consistent with returns.

See our latest analysis for Bega Cheese

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.

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Bega Cheese saw its share price decline over the three years in which its EPS also dropped, falling to a loss. This was, in part, due to extraordinary items impacting earnings. Since the company has fallen to a loss making position, it's hard to compare the change in EPS with the share price change. But it's safe to say we'd generally expect the share price to be lower as a result!

You can see how EPS has changed over time in the image below (click on the chart to see the exact values).

earnings-per-share-growth
ASX:BGA Earnings Per Share Growth March 15th 2024

It might be well worthwhile taking a look at our free report on Bega Cheese's earnings, revenue and cash flow.

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. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. In the case of Bega Cheese, it has a TSR of -30% for the last 3 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

We're pleased to report that Bega Cheese shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 27% over one year. And that does include the dividend. Notably the five-year annualised TSR loss of 0.2% per year compares very unfavourably with the recent share price performance. This makes us a little wary, but the business might have turned around its fortunes. It's always interesting to track share price performance over the longer term. But to understand Bega Cheese better, we need to consider many other factors. Take risks, for example - Bega Cheese has 1 warning sign we think you should be aware of.

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 Australian 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.