The truth is that if you invest for long enough, you're going to end up with some losing stocks. But the last three years have been particularly tough on longer term Consolidated Communications Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ:CNSL) shareholders. Regrettably, they have had to cope with a 75% drop in the share price over that period. And the ride hasn't got any smoother in recent times over the last year, with the price 50% lower in that time. Even worse, it's down 46% in about a month, which isn't fun at all.
Consolidated Communications Holdings isn't currently profitable, so most analysts would look to revenue growth to get an idea of how fast the underlying business is growing. When a company doesn't make profits, we'd generally expect to see good 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, Consolidated Communications Holdings grew revenue at 27% per year. That is faster than most pre-profit companies. So on the face of it we're really surprised to see the share price down 37% a year in the same time period. You'd want to take a close look at the balance sheet, as well as the losses. Ultimately, revenue growth doesn't amount to much if the business can't scale well. Unless the balance sheet is strong, the company might have to raise capital.
The graphic below shows how revenue and earnings have changed as management guided the business forward. If you want to see cashflow, you can click on the chart.
This free interactive report on Consolidated Communications Holdings's balance sheet strength is a great place to start, if you want to investigate the stock further.
What About Dividends?
As well as measuring the share price return, investors should also consider the total shareholder return (TSR). The TSR incorporates the value of any spin-offs or discounted capital raisings, along with any dividends, based on the assumption that the dividends are reinvested. It's fair to say that the TSR gives a more complete picture for stocks that pay a dividend. As it happens, Consolidated Communications Holdings's TSR for the last 3 years was -67%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.
A Different Perspective
Investors in Consolidated Communications Holdings had a tough year, with a total loss of 42% (including dividends), against a market gain of about 10%. 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 15% over the last half decade. We realise that Buffett 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 businesses. Keeping this in mind, a solid next step might be to take a look at Consolidated Communications Holdings's dividend track record. This free interactive graph is a great place to start.
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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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If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at email@example.com. 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. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.