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As every investor would know, not every swing hits the sweet spot. But you have a problem if you face massive losses more than once in a while. So take a moment to sympathize with the long term shareholders of Applied Optoelectronics, Inc. (NASDAQ:AAOI), who have seen the share price tank a massive 75% over a three year period. That would be a disturbing experience. And more recent buyers are having a tough time too, with a drop of 28% in the last year. The falls have accelerated recently, with the share price down 22% in the last three months.
Applied Optoelectronics wasn't profitable in the last twelve months, it is unlikely we'll see a strong correlation between its share price and its earnings per share (EPS). Arguably revenue is our next best option. 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 three years Applied Optoelectronics saw its revenue shrink by 26% per year. That's definitely a weaker result than most pre-profit companies report. And as you might expect the share price has been weak too, dropping at a rate of 20% per year. We prefer leave it to clowns to try to catch falling knives, like this stock. There is a good reason that investors often describe buying a sharply falling stock price as 'trying to catch a falling knife'. Think about it.
You can see below how earnings and revenue have changed over time (discover the exact values by clicking on the image).
It's probably worth noting we've seen significant insider buying in the last quarter, which we consider a positive. On the other hand, we think the revenue and earnings trends are much more meaningful measures of the business. If you are thinking of buying or selling Applied Optoelectronics stock, you should check out this free report showing analyst profit forecasts.
A Different Perspective
Applied Optoelectronics shareholders are down 28% for the year, but the market itself is up 24%. 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 7% 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. Consider for instance, the ever-present spectre of investment risk. We've identified 3 warning signs with Applied Optoelectronics (at least 1 which is concerning) , and understanding them should be part of your investment process.
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.
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. 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.
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