Every investor on earth makes bad calls sometimes. But you want to avoid the really big losses like the plague. So consider, for a moment, the misfortune of Petsec Energy Ltd (ASX:PSA) investors who have held the stock for three years as it declined a whopping 74%. That might cause some serious doubts about the merits of the initial decision to buy the stock, to put it mildly. And over the last year the share price fell 64%, so we doubt many shareholders are delighted. The falls have accelerated recently, with the share price down 15% in the last three months.
With just US$2,142,000 worth of revenue in twelve months, we don't think the market considers Petsec Energy to have proven its business plan. We can't help wondering why it's publicly listed so early in its journey. Are venture capitalists not interested? So it seems shareholders are too busy dreaming about the progress to come than dwelling on the current (lack of) revenue. It seems likely some shareholders believe that Petsec Energy will discover or develop fossil fuel before too long.
As a general rule, if a company doesn't have much revenue, and it loses money, then it is a high risk investment. You should be aware that there is always a chance that this sort of company will need to issue more shares to raise money to continue pursuing its business plan. While some such companies go on to make revenue, profits, and generate value, others get hyped up by hopeful naifs before eventually going bankrupt. It certainly is a dangerous place to invest, as Petsec Energy investors might realise.
Our data indicates that Petsec Energy had US$24m more in total liabilities than it had cash, when it last reported in June 2019. That puts it in the highest risk category, according to our analysis. But with the share price diving 36% per year, over 3 years , it's probably fair to say that some shareholders no longer believe the company will succeed. The image below shows how Petsec Energy's balance sheet has changed over time; if you want to see the precise values, simply click on the image. The image below shows how Petsec Energy's balance sheet has changed over time; if you want to see the precise values, simply click on the image.
Of course, the truth is that it is hard to value companies without much revenue or profit. Given that situation, would you be concerned if it turned out insiders were relentlessly selling stock? I'd like that just about as much as I like to drink milk and fruit juice mixed together. It costs nothing but a moment of your time to see if we are picking up on any insider selling.
A Different Perspective
Petsec Energy shareholders are down 64% for the year, but the market itself is up 12%. 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, last year's performance may indicate unresolved challenges, given that it was worse than the annualised loss of 18% over the last half decade. We realise that Buffett has said investors should 'buy when there is blood on the streets', but we caution that investors should first be sure they are buying a high quality businesses. Shareholders might want to examine this detailed historical graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow.
If you are like me, then you will not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying.
Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on AU exchanges.
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If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at email@example.com. This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.