For many investors, the main point of stock picking is to generate higher returns than the overall market. But the risk of stock picking is that you will likely buy under-performing companies. We regret to report that long term CNT Group Limited (HKG:701) shareholders have had that experience, with the share price dropping 35% in three years, versus a market return of about 13%. The silver lining is that the stock is up 4.2% in about a week.
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.
Although the share price is down over three years, CNT Group actually managed to grow EPS by 61% per year in that time. 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 else the company was over-hyped in the past, and so its growth has disappointed.
It's worth taking a look at other metrics, because the EPS growth doesn't seem to match with the falling share price.
We think that the revenue decline over three years, at a rate of 9.8% per year, probably had some shareholders looking to sell. And that's not surprising, since it seems unlikely that EPS growth can continue for long in the absence of revenue growth.
The graphic below depicts how earnings and revenue have changed over time (unveil the exact values by clicking on the image).
It's probably worth noting we've seen significant insider buying in the last quarter, which we consider a positive. That said, we think earnings and revenue growth trends are even more important factors to consider. Before buying or selling a stock, we always recommend a close examination of historic growth trends, available here..
What About Dividends?
It is important to consider the total shareholder return, as well as the share price return, for any given stock. 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. In the case of CNT Group, it has a TSR of -31% 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're pleased to report that CNT Group shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 17% over one year. That's including the dividend. That certainly beats the loss of about 1.7% per year over the last half decade. We generally put more weight on the long term performance over the short term, but the recent improvement could hint at a (positive) inflection point within the business. It's always interesting to track share price performance over the longer term. But to understand CNT Group better, we need to consider many other factors. Like risks, for instance. Every company has them, and we've spotted 4 warning signs for CNT Group (of which 2 make us uncomfortable!) you should know about.
CNT Group is not the only stock that insiders are buying. For those who like to find winning investments this free list of growing companies with recent insider purchasing, could be just the ticket.
Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on HK exchanges.
If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned.
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