It is a pleasure to report that the BioTime, Inc. (NYSEMKT:BTX) is up 37% in the last quarter. But that is small recompense for the exasperating returns over three years. Tragically, the share price declined 58% in that time. So it is really good to see an improvement. Perhaps the company has turned over a new leaf.
Given that BioTime 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. Generally speaking, companies without profits are expected to grow revenue every year, and at a good clip. 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.
In the last three years BioTime saw its revenue shrink by 18% per year. That's definitely a weaker result than most pre-profit companies report. Arguably, the market has responded appropriately to this business performance by sending the share price down 25% (annualized) in the same time period. When revenue is dropping, and losses are still costing, and the share price sinking fast, it's fair to ask if something is remiss. It could be a while before the company repays long suffering shareholders with share price gains.
You can see how revenue and earnings have changed over time in the image below, (click on the chart to see cashflow).
Balance sheet strength is crucual. It might be well worthwhile taking a look at our free report on how its financial position has changed over time.
What about the Total Shareholder Return (TSR)?
We'd be remiss not to mention the difference between BioTime'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. BioTime hasn't been paying dividends, but its TSR of -55% exceeds its share price return of -58%, implying it has either spun-off a business, or raised capital at a discount; thereby providing additional value to shareholders.
A Different Perspective
Investors in BioTime had a tough year, with a total loss of 41%, against a market gain of about 12%. 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. Regrettably, last year's performance caps off a bad run, with the shareholders facing a total loss of 10% per year over five years. 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. If you would like to research BioTime in more detail then you might want to take a look at whether insiders have been buying or selling shares in the company.
But note: BioTime 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.
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