Altria Group (NYSE:MO) shareholders have endured a 0.8% 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. At this point some shareholders may be questioning their investment in Altria Group, Inc. (NYSE:MO), since the last five years saw the share price fall 28%.

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 Altria Group

In his essay The Superinvestors of Graham-and-Doddsville Warren Buffett described how share prices do not always rationally reflect the value of a business. 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 five years over which the share price declined, Altria Group’s earnings per share (EPS) dropped by 26% each year. The share price decline of 6% per year isn’t as bad as the EPS decline. So investors might expect EPS to bounce back — or they may have previously foreseen the EPS decline.

You can see below how EPS has changed over time (discover the exact values by clicking on the image).

earnings-per-share-growth

Dive deeper into Altria Group’s key metrics by checking this interactive graph of Altria Group’s earnings, revenue and cash flow.

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, Altria Group’s TSR for the last 5 years was -0.8%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.

A Different Perspective

It’s nice to see that Altria Group shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 18% over the last year. That’s including the dividend. Notably the five-year annualised TSR loss of 0.2% per year compares very unfavourably with the recent share price performance. This makes us a little wary, but the business might have turned around its fortunes. It’s always interesting to track share price performance over the longer term. But to understand Altria Group better, we need to consider many other factors. Case in point: We’ve spotted 3 warning signs for Altria Group you should be aware of.

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 US 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.