Statistically speaking, long term investing is a profitable endeavour. But along the way some stocks are going to perform badly. To wit, the Apache Corporation (NYSE:APA) share price managed to fall 69% over five long years. That's an unpleasant experience for long term holders. And we doubt long term believers are the only worried holders, since the stock price has declined 45% over the last twelve months. On top of that, the share price has dropped a further 12% in a month.
Given that Apache didn't make a profit in the last twelve months, we'll focus on revenue growth to form a quick view of its business development. Shareholders of unprofitable companies usually expect strong revenue growth. Some companies are willing to postpone profitability to grow revenue faster, but in that case one does expect good top-line growth.
Over half a decade Apache reduced its trailing twelve month revenue by 15% for each year. That's definitely a weaker result than most pre-profit companies report. Arguably, the market has responded appropriately to this business performance by sending the share price down 21% (annualized) in the same time period. It's fair to say most investors don't like to invest in loss making companies with falling revenue. This looks like a really risky stock to buy, at a glance.
The image below shows how earnings and revenue have tracked over time (if you click on the image you can see greater detail).
It's probably worth noting we've seen significant insider buying in the last quarter, which we consider a positive. On the other hand, we think the revenue and earnings trends are much more meaningful measures of the business. So we recommend checking out this free report showing consensus forecasts
What About Dividends?
As well as measuring the share price return, investors should also consider the total shareholder return (TSR). 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. It's fair to say that the TSR gives a more complete picture for stocks that pay a dividend. We note that for Apache the TSR over the last 5 years was -65%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.
A Different Perspective
Investors in Apache had a tough year, with a total loss of 43% (including dividends) , against a market gain of about 10%. However, keep in mind that even the best stocks will sometimes underperform the market over a twelve month period. Unfortunately, last year's performance may indicate unresolved challenges, given that it was worse than the annualised loss of 19% 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. Investors who like to make money usually check up on insider purchases, such as the price paid, and total amount bought. You can find out about the insider purchases of Apache by clicking this link.
Apache is not the only stock that insiders are buying. 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.
We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.
If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.