Statistically speaking, long term investing is a profitable endeavour. But unfortunately, some companies simply don't succeed. To wit, the St Barbara Limited (ASX:SBM) share price managed to fall 59% over five long years. That's an unpleasant experience for long term holders. And some of the more recent buyers are probably worried, too, with the stock falling 35% in the last year. Even worse, it's down 21% in about a month, which isn't fun at all.
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.
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. 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.
Over five years St Barbara's earnings per share dropped significantly, falling to a loss, with the share price also lower. At present it's hard to make valid comparisons between EPS and the share price. However, we can say we'd expect to see a falling share price in this scenario.
The company's earnings per share (over time) is depicted in the image below (click to see the exact numbers).
This free interactive report on St Barbara's earnings, revenue and cash flow is a great place to start, if you want to investigate the stock further.
What about the Total Shareholder Return (TSR)?
We'd be remiss not to mention the difference between St Barbara's total shareholder return (TSR) and its share price return. 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. Its history of dividend payouts mean that St Barbara's TSR, which was a 53% drop over the last 5 years, was not as bad as the share price return.
A Different Perspective
Investors in St Barbara had a tough year, with a total loss of 34%, against a market gain of about 6.9%. However, keep in mind that even the best stocks will sometimes underperform the market over a twelve month period. Unfortunately, last year's performance may indicate unresolved challenges, given that it was worse than the annualised loss of 9% over the last half decade. Generally speaking long term share price weakness can be a bad sign, though contrarian investors might want to research the stock in hope of a turnaround. I find it very interesting to look at share price over the long term as a proxy for business performance. But to truly gain insight, we need to consider other information, too. For example, we've discovered 2 warning signs for St Barbara that you should be aware of before investing here.
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 AU 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.