In order to justify the effort of selecting individual stocks, it's worth striving to beat the returns from a market index fund. But even the best stock picker will only win with some selections. So we wouldn't blame long term Hersha Hospitality Trust (NYSE:HT) shareholders for doubting their decision to hold, with the stock down 51% over a half decade. The silver lining is that the stock is up 2.0% in about a week.
Because Hersha Hospitality Trust is loss-making, we think the market is probably more focussed on revenue and revenue growth, at least for now. Shareholders of unprofitable companies usually expect strong 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 half decade, Hersha Hospitality Trust saw its revenue increase by 3.9% per year. That's far from impressive given all the money it is losing. This lacklustre growth has no doubt fueled the loss of 13% per year, in that time. We'd want to see proof that future revenue growth is likely to be significantly stronger before getting too interested in Hersha Hospitality Trust. When a stock falls hard like this, some investors like to add the company to a watchlist (in case the business recovers, longer term).
You can see how earnings and revenue have changed over time in the image below (click on the chart to see the exact values).
It's good to see that there was some significant insider buying in the last three months. That's a positive. On the other hand, we think the revenue and earnings trends are much more meaningful measures of the business. You can see what analysts are predicting for Hersha Hospitality Trust in this interactive graph of future profit estimates.
What About Dividends?
It is important to consider the total shareholder return, as well as the share price return, for any given stock. 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. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. As it happens, Hersha Hospitality Trust's TSR for the last 5 years was -34%, 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
While the broader market gained around 16% in the last year, Hersha Hospitality Trust shareholders lost 14% (even including dividends) . 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 7.8% 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. Investors who like to make money usually check up on insider purchases, such as the price paid, and total amount bought. You can find out about the insider purchases of Hersha Hospitality Trust by clicking this link.
There are plenty of other companies that have insiders buying up shares. You probably do not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying.
Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on US exchanges.
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