If You Had Bought Aeterna Zentaris' (TSE:AEZS) Shares Five Years Ago You Would Be Down 77%

By
Simply Wall St
Published
May 20, 2021
TSX:AEZS
Source: Shutterstock

Long term investing is the way to go, but that doesn't mean you should hold every stock forever. We don't wish catastrophic capital loss on anyone. Spare a thought for those who held Aeterna Zentaris Inc. (TSE:AEZS) for five whole years - as the share price tanked 77%. And it's not just long term holders hurting, because the stock is down 21% in the last year. The falls have accelerated recently, with the share price down 40% in the last three months. We note that the company has reported results fairly recently; and the market is hardly delighted. You can check out the latest numbers in our company report.

Check out our latest analysis for Aeterna Zentaris

Aeterna Zentaris recorded just US$3,148,000 in revenue over the last twelve months, which isn't really enough for us to consider it to have a proven product. 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). It seems likely some shareholders believe that Aeterna Zentaris has the funding to invent a new product before too long.

Companies that lack both meaningful revenue and profits are usually considered high risk. 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 companies like this go on to deliver on their plan, making good money for shareholders, many end in painful losses and eventual de-listing. It certainly is a dangerous place to invest, as Aeterna Zentaris investors might realise.

Aeterna Zentaris has plenty of cash in the bank, with cash in excess of all liabilities sitting at US$51m, when it last reported (March 2021). That allows management to focus on growing the business, and not worry too much about raising capital. But since the share price has dropped 12% per year, over 5 years , it seems like the market might have been over-excited previously. You can see in the image below, how Aeterna Zentaris' cash levels have changed over time (click to see the values).

debt-equity-history-analysis
TSX:AEZS Debt to Equity History May 20th 2021

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? It would bother me, that's for sure. It costs nothing but a moment of your time to see if we are picking up on any insider selling.

A Different Perspective

Investors in Aeterna Zentaris had a tough year, with a total loss of 21%, against a market gain of about 40%. 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, longer term shareholders are suffering worse, given the loss of 12% 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. It's always interesting to track share price performance over the longer term. But to understand Aeterna Zentaris better, we need to consider many other factors. To that end, you should learn about the 3 warning signs we've spotted with Aeterna Zentaris (including 1 which shouldn't be ignored) .

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 CA exchanges.

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