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Some stocks are best avoided. It hits us in the gut when we see fellow investors suffer a loss. Spare a thought for those who held MRG Metals Ltd (ASX:MRQ) for five whole years – as the share price tanked 93%. And we doubt long term believers are the only worried holders, since the stock price has declined 25% over the last twelve months. The silver lining is that the stock is up 20% in about a week.
We really feel for shareholders in this scenario. It’s a good reminder of the importance of diversification, and it’s worth keeping in mind there’s more to life than money, anyway.
With just AU$18,825 worth of revenue in twelve months, we don’t think the market considers MRG Metals to have proven its business plan. You have to wonder why venture capitalists aren’t funding it. As a result, we think it’s unlikely shareholders are paying much attention to current revenue, but rather speculating on growth in the years to come. It seems likely some shareholders believe that MRG Metals will find or develop a valuable new mine before too long.
We think companies that have neither significant revenues nor profits are pretty high risk. There is usually a significant chance that they will need more money for business development, putting them at the mercy of capital markets. So the share price itself impacts the value of the shares (as it determines the cost of capital). 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). Some MRG Metals investors have already had a taste of the bitterness stocks like this can leave in the mouth.
MRG Metals had cash in excess of all liabilities of AU$1.2m when it last reported (December 2018). That’s not too bad but management may have to think about raising capital or taking on debt, unless the company is close to breaking even. With the share price down 40% per year, over 5 years, it seems likely that the need for cash is weighing on investors’ minds. The image below shows how MRG Metals’s balance sheet has changed over time; if you want to see the precise values, simply click on the image.
In reality it’s hard to have much certainty when valuing a business that has neither revenue or profit. Given that situation, would you be concerned if it turned out insiders were relentlessly selling stock? 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 the Total Shareholder Return (TSR)?
We’ve already covered MRG Metals’s share price action, but we should also mention its total shareholder return (TSR). The TSR attempts to capture the value of dividends (as if they were reinvested) as well as any spin-offs or discounted capital raisings offered to shareholders. MRG Metals hasn’t been paying dividends, but its TSR of -88% exceeds its share price return of -93%, implying it has either spun-off a business, or raised capital at a discount; thereby providing additional value to shareholders.
A Different Perspective
Investors in MRG Metals had a tough year, with a total loss of 25%, against a market gain of about 12%. However, keep in mind that even the best stocks will sometimes underperform the market over a twelve month period. Unfortunately, longer term shareholders are suffering worse, given the loss of 35% doled out over the last five years. We’d need to see some sustained improvements in the key metrics before we could muster much enthusiasm. Shareholders might want to examine this detailed historical graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow.
We will like MRG Metals better if we see some big insider buys. While we wait, check out this free list of growing companies with considerable, recent, insider buying.
Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on AU 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.