While ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP) shareholders are probably generally happy, the stock hasn't had particularly good run recently, with the share price falling 11% in the last quarter. But that doesn't undermine the rather lovely longer-term return, if you measure over the last three years. In three years the stock price has launched 143% higher: a great result. It's not uncommon to see a share price retrace a bit, after a big gain. The thing to consider is whether the underlying business is doing well enough to support the current price.
So let's assess the underlying fundamentals over the last 3 years and see if they've moved in lock-step with shareholder returns.
To quote Buffett, 'Ships will sail around the world but the Flat Earth Society will flourish. There will continue to be wide discrepancies between price and value in the marketplace...' By comparing earnings per share (EPS) and share price changes over time, we can get a feel for how investor attitudes to a company have morphed over time.
ConocoPhillips was able to grow its EPS at 58% per year over three years, sending the share price higher. The average annual share price increase of 34% is actually lower than the EPS growth. Therefore, it seems the market has moderated its expectations for growth, somewhat. This cautious sentiment is reflected in its (fairly low) P/E ratio of 7.62.
You can see how EPS has changed over time in the image below (click on the chart to see the exact values).
It's probably worth noting we've seen significant insider buying in the last quarter, which we consider a positive. On the other hand, we think the revenue and earnings trends are much more meaningful measures of the business. It might be well worthwhile taking a look at our free report on ConocoPhillips' earnings, revenue and cash flow.
What About Dividends?
When looking at investment returns, it is important to consider the difference between total shareholder return (TSR) and share price return. 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. Arguably, the TSR gives a more comprehensive picture of the return generated by a stock. We note that for ConocoPhillips the TSR over the last 3 years was 173%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!
A Different Perspective
ConocoPhillips shareholders gained a total return of 1.7% during the year. But that return falls short of the market. It's probably a good sign that the company has an even better long term track record, having provided shareholders with an annual TSR of 11% over five years. It's quite possible the business continues to execute with prowess, even as the share price gains are slowing. 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. Case in point: We've spotted 2 warning signs for ConocoPhillips you should be aware of, and 1 of them is concerning.
ConocoPhillips is not the only stock that insiders are buying. For those who like to find winning investments this free list of growing companies with recent insider purchasing, could be just the ticket.
Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on American 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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