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Mothercare plc (LON:MTC) shareholders are doubtless heartened to see the share price bounce 68% in just one week. But will that heal all the wounds inflicted over 5 years of declines? Unlikely. Indeed, the share price is down a whopping 97% in that time. It's true that the recent bounce could signal the company is turning over a new leaf, but we are not so sure. The important question is if the business itself justifies a higher share price in the long term.
We really feel for shareholders in this scenario. It's a good reminder of the importance of diversification, and it's worth keeping in mind there's more to life than money, anyway.
Because Mothercare made a loss in the last twelve months, we think the market is probably more focussed on revenue and revenue growth, at least for now. When a company doesn't make profits, we'd generally expect to see good revenue growth. Some companies are willing to postpone profitability to grow revenue faster, but in that case one does expect good top-line growth.
In the last five years Mothercare saw its revenue shrink by 7.7% per year. While far from catastrophic that is not good. The share price fall of 51% (per year, over five 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. Fear of becoming a 'bagholder' may be keeping people away from this stock.
You can see how earnings and revenue have changed over time in the image below (click on the chart to see the exact values).
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.
A Different Perspective
While the broader market lost about 11% in the twelve months, Mothercare shareholders did even worse, losing 67%. Having said that, it's inevitable that some stocks will be oversold in a falling market. The key is to keep your eyes on the fundamental developments. Regrettably, last year's performance caps off a bad run, with the shareholders facing a total loss of 51% per year over five years. We realise that Baron Rothschild 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 business. 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. To that end, you should learn about the 6 warning signs we've spotted with Mothercare (including 2 which is make us uncomfortable) .
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 GB exchanges.
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