The simplest way to benefit from a rising market is to buy an index fund. Active investors aim to buy stocks that vastly outperform the market - but in the process, they risk under-performance. That downside risk was realized by ASTI Holdings Limited (SGX:575) shareholders over the last year, as the share price declined 66%. That's well bellow the market return of 4.1%. On the other hand, the stock is actually up 8.0% over three years. It's down 3.6% in the last seven days.
ASTI Holdings isn't a profitable company, so it is unlikely we'll see a strong correlation between its share price and its earnings per share (EPS). Arguably revenue is our next best option. 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 twelve months, ASTI Holdings increased its revenue by 15%. That's definitely a respectable growth rate. Unfortunately it seems investors wanted more, because the share price is down 66% in that time. It may well be that the business remains approximately on track, but its revenue growth has simply been delayed. For us it's important to consider when you think a company will become profitable, if you're basing your valuation on revenue.
The image below shows how earnings and revenue have tracked over time (if you click on the image you can see greater detail).
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 Dividends?
As well as measuring the share price return, investors should also consider the total shareholder return (TSR). Whereas the share price return only reflects the change in the share price, the TSR includes the value of dividends (assuming they were reinvested) and the benefit of any discounted capital raising or spin-off. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. As it happens, ASTI Holdings's TSR for the last year was -47%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!
A Different Perspective
Investors in ASTI Holdings had a tough year, with a total loss of 47% (including dividends), against a market gain of about 4.1%. 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 5.0% 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. Most investors take the time to check the data on insider transactions. You can click here to see if insiders have been buying or selling.
For those who like to find winning investments this free list of growing companies with recent insider purchasing, could be just the ticket.
Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on SG 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.