Westpac Banking (ASX:WBC) investors are sitting on a loss of 11% if they invested five years ago

·3 min read

Westpac Banking Corporation (ASX:WBC) shareholders should be happy to see the share price up 10% in the last month. But that doesn't change the fact that the returns over the last five years have been less than pleasing. After all, the share price is down 31% in that time, significantly under-performing the market.

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.

View our latest analysis for Westpac Banking

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 way to examine how market sentiment has changed over time is to look at the interaction between a company's share price and its earnings per share (EPS).

Looking back five years, both Westpac Banking's share price and EPS declined; the latter at a rate of 8.0% per year. Notably, the share price has fallen at 7% per year, fairly close to the change in the EPS. That suggests that the market sentiment around the company hasn't changed much over that time. So it's fair to say the share price has been responding to changes in EPS.

You can see how EPS has changed over time in the image below (click on the chart to see the exact values).

earnings-per-share-growth
earnings-per-share-growth

We consider it positive that insiders have made significant purchases in the last year. Having said that, most people consider earnings and revenue growth trends to be a more meaningful guide to the business. Before buying or selling a stock, we always recommend a close examination of historic growth trends, available here..

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. It's fair to say that the TSR gives a more complete picture for stocks that pay a dividend. As it happens, Westpac Banking's TSR for the last 5 years was -11%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. And there's no prize for guessing that the dividend payments largely explain the divergence!

A Different Perspective

We regret to report that Westpac Banking shareholders are down 8.0% for the year (even including dividends). Unfortunately, that's worse than the broader market decline of 2.3%. 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 2% per year over five years. We realise that Baron Rothschild has said investors should "buy when there is blood on the streets", but we caution that investors should first be sure they are buying a high quality business. 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. Case in point: We've spotted 1 warning sign for Westpac Banking you should be aware of.

Westpac Banking is not the only stock insiders are buying. So take a peek at this free list of growing companies with insider buying.

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