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Statistically speaking, long term investing is a profitable endeavour. But unfortunately, some companies simply don’t succeed. Zooming in on an example, the North Energy ASA (OB:NORTH) share price dropped 67% in the last half decade. We certainly feel for shareholders who bought near the top. Shareholders have had an even rougher run lately, with the share price down 26% in the last 90 days.
With just øre961,000 worth of revenue in twelve months, we don’t think the market considers North 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 that the investors focused more on what could be, than paying attention to the current revenues (or lack thereof). For example, they may be hoping that North Energy finds fossil fuels with an exploration program, before it runs out of money.
We think companies that have neither significant revenues nor profits are pretty high risk. There is almost always a chance they will need to raise more capital, and their progress – and share price – will dictate how dilutive that is to current holders. While some such companies do very well over the long term, others become hyped up by promoters before eventually falling back down to earth, and going bankrupt (or being recapitalized). North Energy has already given some investors a taste of the bitter losses that high risk investing can cause.
North Energy had cash in excess of all liabilities of øre227m when it last reported (March 2019). While that’s nothing to panic about, there is some possibility the company will raise more capital, especially if profits are not imminent. We’d venture that shareholders are concerned about the need for more capital, because the share price has dropped 20% per year, over 5 years. You can click on the image below to see (in greater detail) how North Energy’s cash levels have changed over time.
In reality it’s hard to have much certainty when valuing a business that has neither revenue or profit. What if insiders are ditching the stock hand over fist? I would feel more nervous about the company if that were so. It only takes a moment for you to check whether we have identified any insider sales recently.
What About Dividends?
When looking at investment returns, it is important to consider the difference between total shareholder return (TSR) and share price return. 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 North Energy, it has a TSR of -57% for the last 5 years. That exceeds its share price return that we previously mentioned. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!
A Different Perspective
While the broader market lost about 2.6% in the twelve months, North Energy shareholders did even worse, losing 10% (even including dividends). Having said that, it’s inevitable that some stocks will be oversold in a falling market. The key is to keep your eyes on the fundamental developments. However, the loss over the last year isn’t as bad as the 15% per annum loss investors have suffered over the last half decade. We’d need to see some sustained improvements in the key metrics before we could muster much enthusiasm. Most investors take the time to check the data on insider transactions. You can click here to see if insiders have been buying or selling.
Of course North Energy may not be the best stock to buy. So you may wish to see this free collection of growth stocks.
Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on NO 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 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.