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Did Changing Sentiment Drive Heliospectra's (STO:HELIO) Share Price Down A Worrying 69%?

Simply Wall St

Statistically speaking, long term investing is a profitable endeavour. But no-one is immune from buying too high. To wit, the Heliospectra AB (publ) (STO:HELIO) share price managed to fall 69% over five long years. That's not a lot of fun for true believers. And it's not just long term holders hurting, because the stock is down 26% in the last year. It's down 1.6% in the last seven days.

See our latest analysis for Heliospectra

Heliospectra 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 fast revenue growth can be easily extrapolated to forecast profits, often of considerable size.

In the last half decade, Heliospectra saw its revenue increase by 38% per year. That's better than most loss-making companies. Unfortunately for shareholders the share price has dropped 21% per year - disappointing considering the growth. This could mean high expectations have been tempered, potentially because investors are looking to the bottom line. Given the revenue growth we'd consider the stock to be quite an interesting prospect if the company has a clear path to profitability.

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

OM:HELIO Income Statement, November 4th 2019

Balance sheet strength is crucial. 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)?

Investors should note that there's a difference between Heliospectra's total shareholder return (TSR) and its share price change, which we've covered above. 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. Heliospectra hasn't been paying dividends, but its TSR of -63% exceeds its share price return of -69%, implying it has either spun-off a business, or raised capital at a discount; thereby providing additional value to shareholders.

A Different Perspective

Heliospectra shareholders are down 24% for the year, but the market itself is up 17%. 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 18% 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. Shareholders might want to examine this detailed historical graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow.

But note: Heliospectra 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 SE exchanges.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.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.