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As every investor would know, not every swing hits the sweet spot. But really bad investments should be rare. So consider, for a moment, the misfortune of Milestone Scientific Inc. (NYSEMKT:MLSS) investors who have held the stock for three years as it declined a whopping 86%. That would certainly shake our confidence in the decision to own the stock. And more recent buyers are having a tough time too, with a drop of 59% in the last year. It's up 2.5% in the last seven days.
While a drop like that is definitely a body blow, money isn't as important as health and happiness.
Given that Milestone Scientific 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. 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.
In the last three years Milestone Scientific saw its revenue shrink by 6.1% per year. That's not what investors generally want to see. The share price fall of 48% (per year, over three years) is a stern reminder that money-losing companies are expected to grow revenue. We're generally averse to companies with declining revenues, but we're not alone in that. There's no more than a snowball's chance in hell that share price will head back to its old highs, in the short term.
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.
We like that insiders have been buying shares in the last twelve months. Having said that, most people consider earnings and revenue growth trends to be a more meaningful guide to the business. This free report showing analyst forecasts should help you form a view on Milestone Scientific
A Different Perspective
Investors in Milestone Scientific had a tough year, with a total loss of 59%, against a market gain of about 6.4%. 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 28% 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 want to research this stock further, the data on insider buying is an obvious place to start. You can click here to see who has been buying shares - and the price they paid.
If you like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).
Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on US 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.