Computer Modelling Group (TSE:CMG) shareholders have endured a 44% loss from investing in the stock five years ago

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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. So we wouldn’t blame long term Computer Modelling Group Ltd. (TSE:CMG) shareholders for doubting their decision to hold, with the stock down 55% over a half decade. Unfortunately the share price momentum is still quite negative, with prices down 9.9% in thirty days.

Since shareholders are down over the longer term, lets look at the underlying fundamentals over the that time and see if they’ve been consistent with returns.

See our latest analysis for Computer Modelling Group

There is no denying that markets are sometimes efficient, but prices do not always reflect underlying business performance. One imperfect but simple way to consider how the market perception of a company has shifted is to compare the change in the earnings per share (EPS) with the share price movement.

During the five years over which the share price declined, Computer Modelling Group’s earnings per share (EPS) dropped by 5.3% each year. This reduction in EPS is less than the 15% annual reduction in the share price. This implies that the market is more cautious about the business these days.

You can see how EPS has changed over time in the image below (click on the chart to see the exact values).

earnings-per-share-growth

This free interactive report on Computer Modelling Group’s earnings, revenue and cash flow is a great place to start, if you want to investigate the stock further.

What About Dividends?

When looking at investment returns, it is important to consider the difference between total shareholder return (TSR) and share price return. Whereas the share price return only reflects the change in the share price, the TSR includes the value of dividends (assuming they were reinvested) and the benefit of any discounted capital raising or spin-off. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. In the case of Computer Modelling Group, it has a TSR of -44% for the last 5 years. That exceeds its share price return that we previously mentioned. And there’s no prize for guessing that the dividend payments largely explain the divergence!

A Different Perspective

While the broader market gained around 14% in the last year, Computer Modelling Group shareholders lost 7.9% (even including dividends). 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. Unfortunately, longer term shareholders are suffering worse, given the loss of 8% doled out over the last five years. We would want clear information suggesting the company will grow, before taking the view that the share price will stabilize. 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. Consider for instance, the ever-present spectre of investment risk. We’ve identified 1 warning sign with Computer Modelling Group , and understanding them should be part of your investment process.

But note: Computer Modelling 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 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.