Every investor on earth makes bad calls sometimes. But really bad investments should be rare. So spare a thought for the long term shareholders of Birchcliff Energy Ltd. (TSE:BIR); the share price is down a whopping 79% in the last three years. That might cause some serious doubts about the merits of the initial decision to buy the stock, to put it mildly. And the ride hasn't got any smoother in recent times over the last year, with the price 47% lower in that time. Unfortunately the share price momentum is still quite negative, with prices down 31% in thirty days.
In his essay The Superinvestors of Graham-and-Doddsville Warren Buffett described how share prices do not always rationally reflect the value of a business. One flawed but reasonable way to assess how sentiment around a company has changed is to compare the earnings per share (EPS) with the share price.
Birchcliff Energy became profitable within the last five years. We would usually expect to see the share price rise as a result. So given the share price is down it's worth checking some other metrics too.
Given the healthiness of the dividend payments, we doubt that they've concerned the market. It's good to see that Birchcliff Energy has increased its revenue over the last three years. But it's not clear to us why the share price is down. It might be worth diving deeper into the fundamentals, lest an opportunity goes begging.
The company's revenue and earnings (over time) are depicted in the image below (click to see the exact numbers).
It's good to see that there was some significant insider buying in the last three months. That's a positive. On the other hand, we think the revenue and earnings trends are much more meaningful measures of the business. So it makes a lot of sense to check out what analysts think Birchcliff Energy will earn in the future (free profit forecasts).
What about the Total Shareholder Return (TSR)?
We'd be remiss not to mention the difference between Birchcliff Energy's total shareholder return (TSR) and its share price return. The TSR attempts to capture the value of dividends (as if they were reinvested) as well as any spin-offs or discounted capital raisings offered to shareholders. Its history of dividend payouts mean that Birchcliff Energy's TSR, which was a 77% drop over the last 3 years, was not as bad as the share price return.
A Different Perspective
Birchcliff Energy shareholders are down 45% for the year (even including dividends) , but the market itself is up 1.4%. However, keep in mind that even the best stocks will sometimes underperform the market over a twelve month period. Regrettably, last year's performance caps off a bad run, with the shareholders facing a total loss of 22% 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. 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. For example, we've discovered 5 warning signs for Birchcliff Energy (1 is significant!) that you should be aware of before investing here.
Birchcliff Energy is not the only stock that insiders are buying. 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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