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TC Energy (TSE:TRP) shareholders have lost 4.0% over 3 years, earnings decline likely the culprit

As an investor its worth striving to ensure your overall portfolio beats the market average. But if you try your hand at stock picking, your risk returning less than the market. We regret to report that long term TC Energy Corporation (TSE:TRP) shareholders have had that experience, with the share price dropping 19% in three years, versus a market return of about 27%. The falls have accelerated recently, with the share price down 17% in the last three months.

Since TC Energy has shed CA$3.6b from its value in the past 7 days, let's see if the longer term decline has been driven by the business' economics.

See our latest analysis for TC Energy

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 the three years that the share price fell, TC Energy's earnings per share (EPS) dropped by 12% each year. In comparison the 7% compound annual share price decline isn't as bad as the EPS drop-off. This suggests that the market retains some optimism around long term earnings stability, despite past EPS declines.

You can see below how EPS has changed over time (discover the exact values by clicking on the image).

earnings-per-share-growth
earnings-per-share-growth

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. Dive deeper into the earnings by checking this interactive graph of TC Energy's earnings, revenue and cash flow.

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. In the case of TC Energy, it has a TSR of -4.0% 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 regret to report that TC Energy shareholders are down 4.3% for the year (even including dividends). Unfortunately, that's worse than the broader market decline of 3.8%. Having said that, it's inevitable that some stocks will be oversold in a falling market. The key is to keep your eyes on the fundamental developments. On the bright side, long term shareholders have made money, with a gain of 3% per year over half a decade. It could be that the recent sell-off is an opportunity, so it may be worth checking the fundamental data for signs of a long term growth trend. 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. Even so, be aware that TC Energy is showing 3 warning signs in our investment analysis , and 2 of those make us uncomfortable...

If you like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).

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