These days it's easy to simply buy an index fund, and your returns should (roughly) match the market. But if you pick the right individual stocks, you could make more than that. To wit, the Origin Energy Limited (ASX:ORG) share price is 67% higher than it was a year ago, much better than the market return of around 0.3% (not including dividends) in the same period. So that should have shareholders smiling. Zooming out, the stock is actually down 9.5% in the last three years.
With that in mind, it's worth seeing if the company's underlying fundamentals have been the driver of long term performance, or if there are some discrepancies.
While the efficient markets hypothesis continues to be taught by some, it has been proven that markets are over-reactive dynamic systems, and investors are not always rational. 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.
Over the last twelve months, Origin Energy actually shrank its EPS by 221%. We do note that there were extraordinary items impacting the result.
So we don't think that investors are paying too much attention to EPS. Therefore, it seems likely that investors are putting more weight on metrics other than EPS, at the moment.
Revenue was pretty flat year on year, but maybe a closer look at the data can explain the market optimism.
The image below shows how earnings and revenue have tracked over time (if you click on the image you can see greater detail).
It's good to see that there was some significant insider buying in the last three months. That's a positive. On the other hand, we think the revenue and earnings trends are much more meaningful measures of the business. So we recommend checking out this free report showing consensus forecasts
What About Dividends?
As well as measuring the share price return, investors should also consider the total shareholder return (TSR). The TSR is a return calculation that accounts for the value of cash dividends (assuming that any dividend received was reinvested) and the calculated value of any discounted capital raisings and spin-offs. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. As it happens, Origin Energy's TSR for the last 1 year was 74%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!
A Different Perspective
We're pleased to report that Origin Energy shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 74% over one year. And that does include the dividend. There's no doubt those recent returns are much better than the TSR loss of 0.2% per year over five years. The long term loss makes us cautious, but the short term TSR gain certainly hints at a brighter future. 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. Even so, be aware that Origin Energy is showing 1 warning sign in our investment analysis , you should know about...
Origin Energy 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 AU 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.