Investors in Manchester United (NYSE:MANU) have unfortunately lost 23% over the last three years

By
Simply Wall St
Published
January 14, 2022
NYSE:MANU
Source: Shutterstock

In order to justify the effort of selecting individual stocks, it's worth striving to beat the returns from a market index fund. But in any portfolio, there are likely to be some stocks that fall short of that benchmark. We regret to report that long term Manchester United plc (NYSE:MANU) shareholders have had that experience, with the share price dropping 26% in three years, versus a market return of about 84%. Shareholders have had an even rougher run lately, with the share price down 13% in the last 90 days.

So let's have a look and see if the longer term performance of the company has been in line with the underlying business' progress.

Check out our latest analysis for Manchester United

Because Manchester United made a loss in the last twelve months, we think the market is probably more focussed on revenue and revenue growth, at least for now. 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 the last three years, Manchester United's revenue dropped 9.3% per year. That is not a good result. The stock has disappointed holders over the last three years, falling 8%, annualized. That makes sense given the lack of either profits or revenue growth. Of course, sentiment could become too negative, and the company may actually be making progress to profitability.

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

earnings-and-revenue-growth
NYSE:MANU Earnings and Revenue Growth January 14th 2022

This free interactive report on Manchester United's balance sheet strength is a great place to start, if you want to investigate the stock further.

What About Dividends?

It is important to consider the total shareholder return, as well as the share price return, for any given stock. 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. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. In the case of Manchester United, it has a TSR of -23% for the last 3 years. That exceeds its share price return that we previously mentioned. And there's no prize for guessing that the dividend payments largely explain the divergence!

A Different Perspective

Investors in Manchester United had a tough year, with a total loss of 11% (including dividends), against a market gain of about 14%. 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, last year's performance may indicate unresolved challenges, given that it was worse than the annualised loss of 0.7% over the last half decade. 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. I find it very interesting to look at share price over the long term as a proxy for business performance. But to truly gain insight, we need to consider other information, too. Consider for instance, the ever-present spectre of investment risk. We've identified 1 warning sign with Manchester United , and understanding them should be part of your investment process.

If you would prefer to check out another company -- one with potentially superior financials -- then do not miss this free list of companies that have proven they can grow earnings.

Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on US exchanges.

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