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Despite currently being unprofitable, Vertex Energy (NASDAQ:VTNR) has delivered a 928% return to shareholders over 5 years

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It's been a soft week for Vertex Energy, Inc. (NASDAQ:VTNR) shares, which are down 26%. But that doesn't change the fact that the returns over the last half decade have been spectacular. Indeed, the share price is up a whopping 928% in that time. So it might be that some shareholders are taking profits after good performance. Of course what matters most is whether the business can improve itself sustainably, thus justifying a higher price. It really delights us to see such great share price performance for investors.

While the stock has fallen 26% this week, it's worth focusing on the longer term and seeing if the stocks historical returns have been driven by the underlying fundamentals.

Check out our latest analysis for Vertex Energy

Given that Vertex Energy didn't make a profit in the last twelve months, we'll focus on revenue growth to form a quick view of its business development. Shareholders of unprofitable companies usually expect strong revenue growth. As you can imagine, fast revenue growth, when maintained, often leads to fast profit growth.

In the last 5 years Vertex Energy saw its revenue shrink by 6.0% per year. This is in stark contrast to the strong share price growth of 59%, compound, per year. There can be no doubt this kind of decoupling of revenue growth and share price growth is unusual to see in loss making companies. At the risk of upsetting holders, this does suggest that hope for a better future is playing a significant role in the share price action.

The company's revenue and earnings (over time) are depicted in the image below (click to see the exact numbers).

earnings-and-revenue-growth
earnings-and-revenue-growth

It's probably worth noting that the CEO is paid less than the median at similar sized companies. But while CEO remuneration is always worth checking, the really important question is whether the company can grow earnings going forward. You can see what analysts are predicting for Vertex Energy in this interactive graph of future profit estimates.

A Different Perspective

We're pleased to report that Vertex Energy shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 59% over one year. Having said that, the five-year TSR of 59% a year, is even better. 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. Take risks, for example - Vertex Energy has 3 warning signs we think you should be aware of.

But note: Vertex Energy 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.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.

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.