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The five-year decline in earnings might be taking its toll on Trinity Industries (NYSE:TRN) shareholders as stock falls 4.6% over the past week

For many, the main point of investing is to generate higher returns than the overall market. But the main game is to find enough winners to more than offset the losers So we wouldn't blame long term Trinity Industries, Inc. (NYSE:TRN) shareholders for doubting their decision to hold, with the stock down 37% over a half decade. Unfortunately the share price momentum is still quite negative, with prices down 14% in thirty days. We do note, however, that the broader market is down 11% in that period, and this may have weighed on the share price.

Since Trinity Industries has shed US$89m from its value in the past 7 days, let's see if the longer term decline has been driven by the business' economics.

Check out our latest analysis for Trinity Industries

In his essay The Superinvestors of Graham-and-Doddsville Warren Buffett described how share prices do not always rationally reflect the value of a business. 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.

During five years of share price growth, Trinity Industries moved from a loss to profitability. Most would consider that to be a good thing, so it's counter-intuitive to see the share price declining. Other metrics may better explain the share price move.

We note that the dividend has remained healthy, so that wouldn't really explain the share price drop. However, revenue has declined at a compound annual rate of 14% per year. With revenue weak, and increased payouts of cash, the market might be taking the view that its best days are behind it.

The image below shows how earnings and revenue have tracked over time (if you click on the image you can see greater detail).

earnings-and-revenue-growth
earnings-and-revenue-growth

We know that Trinity Industries has improved its bottom line lately, but what does the future have in store? This free report showing analyst forecasts should help you form a view on Trinity Industries

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. It's fair to say that the TSR gives a more complete picture for stocks that pay a dividend. We note that for Trinity Industries the TSR over the last 5 years was 1.9%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!

A Different Perspective

Although it hurts that Trinity Industries returned a loss of 18% in the last twelve months, the broader market was actually worse, returning a loss of 21%. Longer term investors wouldn't be so upset, since they would have made 0.4%, each year, over five years. In the best case scenario the last year is just a temporary blip on the journey to a brighter future. It's always interesting to track share price performance over the longer term. But to understand Trinity Industries better, we need to consider many other factors. Consider for instance, the ever-present spectre of investment risk. We've identified 3 warning signs with Trinity Industries (at least 2 which make us uncomfortable) , and understanding them should be part of your investment process.

If you are like me, then you will not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying.

Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on US 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.

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