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Imagine Owning Liberty Global (NASDAQ:LBTY.A) While The Price Tanked 62%

Simply Wall St

Generally speaking long term investing is the way to go. But along the way some stocks are going to perform badly. For example the Liberty Global Plc (NASDAQ:LBTY.A) share price dropped 62% over five 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 21%. The falls have accelerated recently, with the share price down 11% in the last three months. We note that the company has reported results fairly recently; and the market is hardly delighted. You can check out the latest numbers in our company report.

View our latest analysis for Liberty Global

Given that Liberty Global 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. Some companies are willing to postpone profitability to grow revenue faster, but in that case one does expect good top-line growth.

Over half a decade Liberty Global reduced its trailing twelve month revenue by 13% for each year. That puts it in an unattractive cohort, to put it mildly. It seems appropriate, then, that the share price slid about 18% annually during that time. It's fair to say most investors don't like to invest in loss making companies with falling revenue. This looks like a really risky stock to buy, at a glance.

The company's revenue and earnings (over time) are depicted in the image below (click to see the exact numbers).

NasdaqGS:LBTY.A Income Statement, February 17th 2020

Liberty Global is a well known stock, with plenty of analyst coverage, suggesting some visibility into future growth. So it makes a lot of sense to check out what analysts think Liberty Global will earn in the future (free analyst consensus estimates)

What about the Total Shareholder Return (TSR)?

We've already covered Liberty Global's share price action, but we should also mention its total shareholder return (TSR). The TSR attempts to capture the value of dividends (as if they were reinvested) as well as any spin-offs or discounted capital raisings offered to shareholders. Liberty Global hasn't been paying dividends, but its TSR of -57% exceeds its share price return of -62%, implying it has either spun-off a business, or raised capital at a discount; thereby providing additional value to shareholders.

A Different Perspective

While the broader market gained around 23% in the last year, Liberty Global shareholders lost 21%. 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 15% 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 business. It's always interesting to track share price performance over the longer term. But to understand Liberty Global better, we need to consider many other factors. Be aware that Liberty Global is showing 1 warning sign in our investment analysis , you should know about...

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Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on US exchanges.

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.

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. Thank you for reading.