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Earnings are growing at Challenger (ASX:CGF) but shareholders still don't like its prospects

·3 min read

For many, the main point of investing is to generate higher returns than the overall market. But the main game is to find enough winners to more than offset the losers At this point some shareholders may be questioning their investment in Challenger Limited (ASX:CGF), since the last five years saw the share price fall 53%. Even worse, it's down 16% in about a month, which isn't fun at all. But this could be related to poor market conditions -- stocks are down 10% in the same time.

With the stock having lost 12% in the past week, it's worth taking a look at business performance and seeing if there's any red flags.

Check out our latest analysis for Challenger

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. By comparing earnings per share (EPS) and share price changes over time, we can get a feel for how investor attitudes to a company have morphed over time.

Challenger became profitable within the last five years. That would generally be considered a positive, so we are surprised to see the share price is down. Other metrics may better explain the share price move.

In contrast to the share price, revenue has actually increased by 1.5% a year in the five year 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 image below shows how earnings and revenue have tracked over time (if you click on the image you can see greater detail).

earnings-and-revenue-growth
earnings-and-revenue-growth

It's probably worth noting that the CEO is paid less than the median at similar sized companies. It's always worth keeping an eye on CEO pay, but a more important question is whether the company will grow earnings throughout the years. If you are thinking of buying or selling Challenger stock, you should check out this free report showing analyst profit forecasts.

What About Dividends?

It is important to consider the total shareholder return, as well as the share price return, for any given stock. 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. As it happens, Challenger's TSR for the last 5 years was -45%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!

A Different Perspective

It's nice to see that Challenger shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 19% over the last year. Of course, that includes the dividend. That certainly beats the loss of about 8% per year over the last half decade. 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 Challenger is showing 1 warning sign in our investment analysis , you should know about...

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 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.