It is doubtless a positive to see that the Cogstate Limited (ASX:CGS) share price has gained some 64% in the last three months. But the last three years have seen a terrible decline. To wit, the share price sky-dived 72% in that time. Arguably, the recent bounce is to be expected after such a bad drop. Of course the real question is whether the business can sustain a turnaround.
Cogstate isn't currently profitable, so most analysts would look to revenue growth to get an idea of how fast the underlying business is growing. Shareholders of unprofitable companies usually expect strong revenue growth. That's because it's hard to be confident a company will be sustainable if revenue growth is negligible, and it never makes a profit.
Over three years, Cogstate grew revenue at 3.3% per year. Given it's losing money in pursuit of growth, we are not really impressed with that. Nonetheless, it's fair to say the rapidly declining share price (down 35%, compound, over three years) suggests the market is very disappointed with this level of growth. We generally don't try to 'catch the falling knife'. Of course, revenue growth is nice but generally speaking the lower the profits, the riskier the business - and this business isn't making steady profits.
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. Before buying or selling a stock, we always recommend a close examination of historic growth trends, available here..
A Different Perspective
Investors in Cogstate had a tough year, with a total loss of 57%, against a market gain of about 18%. 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. Longer term investors wouldn't be so upset, since they would have made 8.0%, each year, over five years. It could be that the recent sell-off is an opportunity, so it may be worth checking the fundamental data for signs of a long term growth trend. Investors who like to make money usually check up on insider purchases, such as the price paid, and total amount bought. You can find out about the insider purchases of Cogstate by clicking this link.
There are plenty of other companies that have insiders buying up shares. You probably do not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying.
Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on AU exchanges.
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