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The past year for Russel Metals (TSE:RUS) investors has not been profitable

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Passive investing in an index fund is a good way to ensure your own returns roughly match the overall market. Active investors aim to buy stocks that vastly outperform the market - but in the process, they risk under-performance. Unfortunately the Russel Metals Inc. (TSE:RUS) share price slid 24% over twelve months. That falls noticeably short of the market decline of around 1.0%. Longer term investors have fared much better, since the share price is up 15% in three years. Furthermore, it's down 22% in about a quarter. That's not much fun for holders. Of course, this share price action may well have been influenced by the 13% decline in the broader market, throughout the period.

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 Russel Metals

While markets are a powerful pricing mechanism, share prices reflect investor sentiment, not just underlying business performance. 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.

Even though the Russel Metals share price is down over the year, its EPS actually improved. It's quite possible that growth expectations may have been unreasonable in the past.

It's surprising to see the share price fall so much, despite the improved EPS. So it's well worth checking out some other metrics, too.

We don't see any weakness in the Russel Metals' dividend so the steady payout can't really explain the share price drop. The revenue trend doesn't seem to explain why the share price is down. Of course, it could simply be that it simply fell short of the market consensus expectations.

The graphic below depicts how earnings and revenue have changed over time (unveil the exact values by clicking on the image).

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

We know that Russel Metals has improved its bottom line lately, but what does the future have in store? So it makes a lot of sense to check out what analysts think Russel Metals will earn in the future (free profit forecasts).

What About Dividends?

As well as measuring the share price return, investors should also consider the total shareholder return (TSR). 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. It's fair to say that the TSR gives a more complete picture for stocks that pay a dividend. We note that for Russel Metals the TSR over the last 1 year was -20%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!

A Different Perspective

While the broader market lost about 1.0% in the twelve months, Russel Metals shareholders did even worse, losing 20% (even including dividends). 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. On the bright side, long term shareholders have made money, with a gain of 7% per year over half a decade. If the fundamental data continues to indicate long term sustainable growth, the current sell-off could be an opportunity worth considering. It's always interesting to track share price performance over the longer term. But to understand Russel Metals better, we need to consider many other factors. To that end, you should learn about the 2 warning signs we've spotted with Russel Metals (including 1 which doesn't sit too well with us) .

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 CA 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.

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