It's easy to match the overall market return by buying an index fund. But if you buy individual stocks, you can do both better or worse than that. That downside risk was realized by Cousins Properties Incorporated (NYSE:CUZ) shareholders over the last year, as the share price declined 39%. That's well below the market decline of 22%. To make matters worse, the returns over three years have also been really disappointing (the share price is 38% lower than three years ago). Shareholders have had an even rougher run lately, with the share price down 21% in the last 90 days.
With the stock having lost 4.2% in the past week, it's worth taking a look at business performance and seeing if there's any red flags.
While markets are a powerful pricing mechanism, share prices reflect investor sentiment, not just underlying business performance. One imperfect but simple way to consider how the market perception of a company has shifted is to compare the change in the earnings per share (EPS) with the share price movement.
During the unfortunate twelve months during which the Cousins Properties share price fell, it actually saw its earnings per share (EPS) improve by 193%. Of course, the situation might betray previous over-optimism about growth.
It's fair to say that the share price does not seem to be reflecting the EPS growth. But we might find some different metrics explain the share price movements better.
We don't see any weakness in the Cousins Properties' dividend so the steady payout can't really explain the share price drop. The revenue trend doesn't seem to explain why the share price is down. Of course, it could simply be that it simply fell short of the market consensus expectations.
The company's revenue and earnings (over time) are depicted in the image below (click to see the exact numbers).
We know that Cousins Properties has improved its bottom line over the last three years, but what does the future have in store? If you are thinking of buying or selling Cousins Properties stock, you should check out this FREE detailed report on its balance sheet.
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. Arguably, the TSR gives a more comprehensive picture of the return generated by a stock. In the case of Cousins Properties, it has a TSR of -37% for the last 1 year. That exceeds its share price return that we previously mentioned. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!
A Different Perspective
While the broader market lost about 22% in the twelve months, Cousins Properties shareholders did even worse, losing 37% (even including dividends). However, it could simply be that the share price has been impacted by broader market jitters. It might be worth keeping an eye on the fundamentals, in case there's a good opportunity. Regrettably, last year's performance caps off a bad run, with the shareholders facing a total loss of 5% per year over five years. 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 3 warning signs for Cousins Properties (1 can't be ignored!) that you should be aware of before investing here.
Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking elsewhere. So take a peek at this free list of companies we expect will grow earnings.
Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on US 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.
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