Long term investing is the way to go, but that doesn't mean you should hold every stock forever. It hits us in the gut when we see fellow investors suffer a loss. Anyone who held Applied Optoelectronics, Inc. (NASDAQ:AAOI) for five years would be nursing their metaphorical wounds since the share price dropped 88% in that time. And we doubt long term believers are the only worried holders, since the stock price has declined 65% over the last twelve months. The falls have accelerated recently, with the share price down 50% in the last three months. We really hope anyone holding through that price crash has a diversified portfolio. Even when you lose money, you don't have to lose the lesson.
It's worthwhile assessing if the company's economics have been moving in lockstep with these underwhelming shareholder returns, or if there is some disparity between the two. So let's do just that.
Because Applied Optoelectronics 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. 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.
In the last five years Applied Optoelectronics saw its revenue shrink by 9.9% per year. That's definitely a weaker result than most pre-profit companies report. So it's not altogether surprising to see the share price down 13% per year in the same time period. This kind of price performance makes us very wary, especially when combined with falling revenue. Of course, the poor performance could mean the market has been too severe selling down. That can happen.
You can see below how earnings and revenue have changed over time (discover the exact values by clicking on the image).
Take a more thorough look at Applied Optoelectronics' financial health with this free report on its balance sheet.
A Different Perspective
Applied Optoelectronics shareholders are down 65% for the year, but the market itself is up 9.7%. However, keep in mind that even the best stocks will sometimes underperform the market over a twelve month period. Unfortunately, last year's performance may indicate unresolved challenges, given that it was worse than the annualised loss of 13% over the last half decade. We realise that Baron Rothschild has said investors should "buy when there is blood on the streets", but we caution that investors should first be sure they are buying a high quality business. While it is well worth considering the different impacts that market conditions can have on the share price, there are other factors that are even more important. For example, we've discovered 3 warning signs for Applied Optoelectronics that you should be aware of before investing here.
But note: Applied Optoelectronics may not be the best stock to buy. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with past earnings growth (and further growth forecast).
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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This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.