Easy Come, Easy Go: How R.R. Donnelley & Sons (NYSE:RRD) Shareholders Got Unlucky And Saw 91% Of Their Cash Evaporate

Long term investing works well, but it doesn’t always work for each individual stock. We don’t wish catastrophic capital loss on anyone. Anyone who held R.R. Donnelley & Sons Company (NYSE:RRD) for five years would be nursing their metaphorical wounds since the share price dropped 91% in that time. We also note that the stock has performed poorly over the last year, with the share price down 45%. Even worse, it’s down 17% in about a month, which isn’t fun at all. This could be related to the recent financial results – you can catch up on the most recent data by reading our company report.

While a drop like that is definitely a body blow, money isn’t as important as health and happiness.

See our latest analysis for R.R. Donnelley & Sons

Because R.R. Donnelley & Sons is loss-making, we think the market is probably more focussed on revenue and revenue growth, at least for now. Generally speaking, companies without profits are expected to grow revenue every year, and at a good clip. As you can imagine, fast revenue growth, when maintained, often leads to fast profit growth.

Over half a decade R.R. Donnelley & Sons reduced its trailing twelve month revenue by 12% for each year. That’s definitely a weaker result than most pre-profit companies report. So it’s not that strange that the share price dropped 39% per year in that period. This kind of price performance makes us very wary, especially when combined with falling revenue. Ironically, that behavior could create an opportunity for the contrarian investor – but only if there are good reasons to predict a brighter future.

You can see how revenue and earnings have changed over time in the image below, (click on the chart to see cashflow).

NYSE:RRD Income Statement, March 15th 2019
NYSE:RRD Income Statement, March 15th 2019

We like that insiders have been buying shares in the last twelve months. Having said that, most people consider earnings and revenue growth trends to be a more meaningful guide to the business. So it makes a lot of sense to check out what analysts think R.R. Donnelley & Sons will earn in the future (free profit forecasts)

What About Dividends?

When looking at investment returns, it is important to consider the difference between total shareholder return (TSR) and share price return. 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. Arguably, the TSR gives a more comprehensive picture of the return generated by a stock. As it happens, R.R. Donnelley & Sons’s TSR for the last 5 years was -76%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. And there’s no prize for guessing that the dividend payments largely explain the divergence!

A Different Perspective

While the broader market gained around 3.0% in the last year, R.R. Donnelley & Sons shareholders lost 43% (even including dividends). 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. Regrettably, last year’s performance caps off a bad run, with the shareholders facing a total loss of 25% per year over five years. Generally speaking long term share price weakness can be a bad sign, though contrarian investors might want to research the stock in hope of a turnaround. If you want to research this stock further, the data on insider buying is an obvious place to start. You can click here to see who has been buying shares – and the price they paid.

If you like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).

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 editorial-team@simplywallst.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.