While it may not be enough for some shareholders, we think it is good to see the SM Energy Company (NYSE:SM) share price up 20% in a single quarter. But will that repair the damage for the weary investors who have owned this stock as it declined over half a decade? Probably not. In fact, the share price has tumbled down a mountain to land 81% lower after that period. The recent bounce might mean the long decline is over, but we are not confident. The fundamental business performance will ultimately determine if the turnaround can be sustained.
While a drop like that is definitely a body blow, money isn’t as important as health and happiness.
While markets are a powerful pricing mechanism, share prices reflect investor sentiment, not just 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.
SM Energy became profitable within the last five years. Most would consider that to be a good thing, so it’s counter-intuitive to see the share price declining. Other metrics may better explain the share price move.
We don’t think that the 1.0% is big factor in the share price, since it’s quite small, as dividends go. It could be that the revenue decline of 9.6% per year is viewed as evidence that SM Energy is shrinking. That could explain the weak share price.
You can see below how earnings and revenue have changed over time (discover the exact values by clicking on the image).
We like that insiders have been buying shares in the last twelve months. Having said that, most people consider earnings and revenue growth trends to be a more meaningful guide to the business.
A Different Perspective
SM Energy shareholders are down 51% for the year (even including dividends) , but the market itself is up 24%. Even the share prices of good stocks drop sometimes, but we want to see improvements in the fundamental metrics of a business, before getting too interested. Regrettably, last year’s performance caps off a bad run, with the shareholders facing a total loss of 28% per year over five years. Generally speaking long term share price weakness can be a bad sign, though contrarian investors might want to research the stock in hope of a turnaround. 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.