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Investors in China Merchants Port Holdings (HKG:144) Have Unfortunately Lost 28% Over the Last Five Years

Simply Wall St ·  {{timeTz}}

In order to justify the effort of selecting individual stocks, it's worth striving to beat the returns from a market index fund. But the main game is to find enough winners to more than offset the losers At this point some shareholders may be questioning their investment in China Merchants Port Holdings Company Limited (HKG:144), since the last five years saw the share price fall 50%. The falls have accelerated recently, with the share price down 14% in the last three months.

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.

Check out our latest analysis for China Merchants Port Holdings

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.

While the share price declined over five years, China Merchants Port Holdings actually managed to increase EPS by an average of 3.3% per year. Given the share price reaction, one might suspect that EPS is not a good guide to the business performance during the period (perhaps due to a one-off loss or gain). Or possibly, the market was previously very optimistic, so the stock has disappointed, despite improving EPS.

Based on these numbers, we'd venture that the market may have been over-optimistic about forecast growth, half a decade ago. Looking to other metrics might better explain the share price change.

The most recent dividend was actually lower than it was in the past, so that may have sent the share price lower.

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-growthSEHK:144 Earnings and Revenue Growth August 15th 2022

We're pleased to report that the CEO is remunerated more modestly than most CEOs at similarly capitalized companies. But while CEO remuneration is always worth checking, the really important question is whether the company can grow earnings going forward. This free report showing analyst forecasts should help you form a view on China Merchants Port Holdings

What About Dividends?

As well as measuring the share price return, investors should also consider the total shareholder return (TSR). 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. Arguably, the TSR gives a more comprehensive picture of the return generated by a stock. As it happens, China Merchants Port Holdings' TSR for the last 5 years was -28%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!

A Different Perspective

It's nice to see that China Merchants Port Holdings shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 12% over the last year. Of course, that includes the dividend. There's no doubt those recent returns are much better than the TSR loss of 5% per year over five years. The long term loss makes us cautious, but the short term TSR gain certainly hints at a brighter future. It's always interesting to track share price performance over the longer term. But to understand China Merchants Port Holdings better, we need to consider many other factors. Consider risks, for instance. Every company has them, and we've spotted 2 warning signs for China Merchants Port Holdings you should know about.

If you would prefer to check out another company -- one with potentially superior financials -- then do not miss this free list of companies that have proven they can grow earnings.

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