In order to justify the effort of selecting individual stocks, it's worth striving to beat the returns from a market index fund. But every investor is virtually certain to have both over-performing and under-performing stocks. At this point some shareholders may be questioning their investment in Telephone and Data Systems, Inc. (NYSE:TDS), since the last five years saw the share price fall 27%. More recently, the share price has dropped a further 13% in a month.
To paraphrase Benjamin Graham: Over the short term the market is a voting machine, but over the long term it's a weighing machine. 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).
During the unfortunate half decade during which the share price slipped, Telephone and Data Systems actually saw its earnings per share (EPS) improve by 20% per year. So it doesn't seem like EPS is a great guide to understanding how the market is valuing the stock. Alternatively, growth expectations may have been unreasonable in the past.
Due to the lack of correlation between the EPS growth and the falling share price, it's worth taking a look at other metrics to try to understand the share price movement.
Revenue is actually up 0.4% over the time period. So it seems one might have to take closer look at the fundamentals to understand why the share price languishes. After all, there may be an opportunity.
The company's revenue and earnings (over time) are depicted in the image below (click to see the exact numbers).NYSE:TDS Earnings and Revenue Growth July 7th 2021
We know that Telephone and Data Systems has improved its bottom line lately, but what does the future have in store? You can see what analysts are predicting for Telephone and Data Systems in this interactive graph of future profit estimates.
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, Telephone and Data Systems' TSR for the last 5 years was -17%, 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
Telephone and Data Systems shareholders gained a total return of 18% during the year. But that return falls short of the market. On the bright side, that's still a gain, and it is certainly better than the yearly loss of about 3% endured over half a decade. It could well be that the business is stabilizing. It's always interesting to track share price performance over the longer term. But to understand Telephone and Data Systems better, we need to consider many other factors. For example, we've discovered 3 warning signs for Telephone and Data Systems (2 are potentially serious!) that you should be aware of before investing here.
If you are like me, then you will not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying.
Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on US exchanges.
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. 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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