For many investors, the main point of stock picking is to generate higher returns than the overall market. But its virtually certain that sometimes you will buy stocks that fall short of the market average returns. Unfortunately, that's been the case for longer term Omnicom Group Inc. (NYSE:OMC) shareholders, since the share price is down 33% in the last three years, falling well short of the market return of around 24%. And more recent buyers are having a tough time too, with a drop of 31% in the last year. Furthermore, it's down 30% in about a quarter. That's not much fun for holders. But this could be related to the weak market, which is down 16% in the same period.
There is no denying that markets are sometimes efficient, but prices do not always reflect underlying business performance. 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.
During the unfortunate three years of share price decline, Omnicom Group actually saw its earnings per share (EPS) improve by 8.3% per year. Given the share price reaction, one might suspect that EPS is not a good guide to the business performance during the period (perhaps due to a one-off loss or gain). Alternatively, growth expectations may have been unreasonable in the past.
Since the change in EPS doesn't seem to correlate with the change in share price, it's worth taking a look at other metrics.
We note that the dividend seems healthy enough, so that probably doesn't explain the share price drop. Revenue has been pretty flat over three years, so that isn't an obvious reason shareholders would sell. A closer look at revenue and profit trends might yield insights.
You can see how earnings and revenue have changed over time in the image below (click on the chart to see the exact values).
Omnicom Group is well known by investors, and plenty of clever analysts have tried to predict the future profit levels. Given we have quite a good number of analyst forecasts, it might be well worth checking out this free chart depicting consensus estimates.
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 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. We note that for Omnicom Group the TSR over the last 3 years was -26%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.
A Different Perspective
We regret to report that Omnicom Group shareholders are down 29% for the year (even including dividends) . Unfortunately, that's worse than the broader market decline of 4.0%. Having said that, it's inevitable that some stocks will be oversold in a falling market. The key is to keep your eyes on the fundamental developments. Unfortunately, last year's performance may indicate unresolved challenges, given that it was worse than the annualised loss of 3.3% over the last half decade. 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. 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. Take risks, for example - Omnicom Group has 3 warning signs (and 1 which doesn't sit too well with us) we think you should know about.
But note: Omnicom Group may not be the best stock to buy. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with past earnings growth (and further growth forecast).
Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on US exchanges.
If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned.
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