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Fletcher Building (NZSE:FBU) rallies 3.9% this week, taking five-year gains to 2.2%

The main aim of stock picking is to find the market-beating stocks. But every investor is virtually certain to have both over-performing and under-performing stocks. So we wouldn't blame long term Fletcher Building Limited (NZSE:FBU) shareholders for doubting their decision to hold, with the stock down 22% over a half decade. Furthermore, it's down 19% in about a quarter. That's not much fun for holders.

While the last five years has been tough for Fletcher Building shareholders, this past week has shown signs of promise. So let's look at the longer term fundamentals and see if they've been the driver of the negative returns.

See our latest analysis for Fletcher Building

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...' 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.

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During five years of share price growth, Fletcher Building 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 might give us a better handle on how its value is changing over time.

We note that the dividend has remained healthy, so that wouldn't really explain the share price drop. While it's not completely obvious why the share price is down, a closer look at the company's history might help explain it.

You can see how earnings and revenue have changed over time in the image below (click on the chart to see the exact values).

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

We consider it positive that insiders have made significant purchases in the last year. Even so, future earnings will be far more important to whether current shareholders make money. You can see what analysts are predicting for Fletcher Building in this interactive graph of future profit estimates.

What About Dividends?

It is important to consider the total shareholder return, as well as the share price return, for any given stock. 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. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. We note that for Fletcher Building the TSR over the last 5 years was 2.2%, 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 gained around 0.5% in the last year, Fletcher Building shareholders lost 1.6% (even including dividends). Even the share prices of good stocks drop sometimes, but we want to see improvements in the fundamental metrics of a business, before getting too interested. Longer term investors wouldn't be so upset, since they would have made 0.4%, each year, over five years. If the fundamental data continues to indicate long term sustainable growth, the current sell-off could be an opportunity worth considering. It's always interesting to track share price performance over the longer term. But to understand Fletcher Building better, we need to consider many other factors. For example, we've discovered 3 warning signs for Fletcher Building (1 is a bit concerning!) that you should be aware of before investing here.

Fletcher Building 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 New Zealander 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.