Investing in NortonLifeLock (NASDAQ:NLOK) five years ago would have delivered you a 45% gain

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Ideally, your overall portfolio should beat the market average. But even the best stock picker will only win with some selections. At this point some shareholders may be questioning their investment in NortonLifeLock Inc. (NASDAQ:NLOK), since the last five years saw the share price fall 23%. The falls have accelerated recently, with the share price down 21% in the last three months. Of course, this share price action may well have been influenced by the 18% decline in the broader market, throughout the period.

It’s worthwhile assessing if the company’s economics have been moving in lockstep with these underwhelming shareholder returns, or if there is some disparity between the two. So let’s do just that.

See our latest analysis for NortonLifeLock

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. 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.

NortonLifeLock 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 might give us a better handle on how its value is changing over time.

It could be that the revenue decline of 12% per year is viewed as evidence that NortonLifeLock is shrinking. This has probably encouraged some shareholders to sell down the stock.

The company’s revenue and earnings (over time) are depicted in the image below (click to see the exact numbers).

earnings-and-revenue-growth

We know that NortonLifeLock has improved its bottom line over the last three years, but what does the future have in store? It might be well worthwhile taking a look at our free report on how its financial position has changed over time.

What About Dividends?

As well as measuring the share price return, investors should also consider the total shareholder return (TSR). 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. In the case of NortonLifeLock, it has a TSR of 45% 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

Although it hurts that NortonLifeLock returned a loss of 17% in the last twelve months, the broader market was actually worse, returning a loss of 20%. Longer term investors wouldn’t be so upset, since they would have made 8%, each year, over five years. It could be that the business is just facing some short term problems, but shareholders should keep a close eye on the fundamentals. It’s always interesting to track share price performance over the longer term. But to understand NortonLifeLock better, we need to consider many other factors. For example, we’ve discovered 4 warning signs for NortonLifeLock (1 is concerning!) that you should be aware of before investing here.

If you like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).

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.