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Imagine Owning Halliburton (NYSE:HAL) While The Price Tanked 69%

Simply Wall St

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Statistically speaking, long term investing is a profitable endeavour. But along the way some stocks are going to perform badly. To wit, the Halliburton Company (NYSE:HAL) share price managed to fall 69% over five long years. That's not a lot of fun for true believers. We also note that the stock has performed poorly over the last year, with the share price down 49%. The falls have accelerated recently, with the share price down 28% in the last three months.

Check out our latest analysis for Halliburton

While markets are a powerful pricing mechanism, share prices reflect investor sentiment, not just underlying business performance. One flawed but reasonable way to assess how sentiment around a company has changed is to compare the earnings per share (EPS) with the share price.

Halliburton became profitable within the last five years. Most would consider that to be a good thing, so it's counter-intuitive to see the share price declining. Other metrics might give us a better handle on how its value is changing over time.

Arguably, the revenue drop of 9.2% a year for half a decade suggests that the company can't grow in the long term. This has probably encouraged some shareholders to sell down the 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).

NYSE:HAL Income Statement, July 17th 2019

We like that insiders have been buying shares in the last twelve months. Even so, future earnings will be far more important to whether current shareholders make money. So we recommend checking out this free report showing consensus forecasts

What About Dividends?

As well as measuring the share price return, investors should also consider the total shareholder return (TSR). The TSR incorporates the value of any spin-offs or discounted capital raisings, along with any dividends, based on the assumption that the dividends are reinvested. Arguably, the TSR gives a more comprehensive picture of the return generated by a stock. As it happens, Halliburton's TSR for the last 5 years was -66%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. And there's no prize for guessing that the dividend payments largely explain the divergence!

A Different Perspective

Halliburton shareholders are down 48% for the year (even including dividends), but the market itself is up 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 19% 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. It is all well and good that insiders have been buying shares, but we suggest you check here to see what price insiders were buying at.

Halliburton is not the only stock that insiders are buying. 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 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 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.