For many, the main point of investing is to generate higher returns than the overall market. But even the best stock picker will only win with some selections. So we wouldn't blame long term China Merchants Port Holdings Company Limited (HKG:144) shareholders for doubting their decision to hold, with the stock down 36% over a half decade.
So let's have a look and see if the longer term performance of the company has been in line with the underlying business' progress.
Check out our latest analysis for China Merchants Port Holdings
While markets are a powerful pricing mechanism, share prices reflect investor sentiment, not just underlying business performance. 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.
While the share price declined over five years, China Merchants Port Holdings actually managed to increase EPS by an average of 4.1% per year. So it doesn't seem like EPS is a great guide to understanding how the market is valuing the stock. Alternatively, growth expectations may have been unreasonable in the past.
By glancing at these numbers, we'd posit that the the market had expectations of much higher growth, five years ago. Looking to other metrics might better explain the share price change.
The steady dividend doesn't really explain why the share price is down. While it's not completely obvious why the share price is down, a closer look at the company's history might help explain it.
The company's revenue and earnings (over time) are depicted in the image below (click to see the exact numbers).SEHK:144 Earnings and Revenue Growth May 1st 2022
We know that China Merchants Port Holdings has improved its bottom line lately, but what does the future have in store? You can see what analysts are predicting for China Merchants Port Holdings in this interactive graph of future profit estimates.
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. It's fair to say that the TSR gives a more complete picture for stocks that pay a dividend. As it happens, China Merchants Port Holdings' TSR for the last 5 years was -9.7%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.
A Different Perspective
It's good to see that China Merchants Port Holdings has rewarded shareholders with a total shareholder return of 17% in the last twelve months. And that does include the dividend. That certainly beats the loss of about 1.9% per year over the last half decade. The long term loss makes us cautious, but the short term TSR gain certainly hints at a brighter future. 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. To that end, you should be aware of the 2 warning signs we've spotted with China Merchants Port Holdings .
But note: China Merchants Port Holdings may not be the best stock to buy. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with past earnings growth (and further growth forecast).
Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on HK 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.