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Imagine Owning R.R. Donnelley & Sons (NYSE:RRD) And Taking A 96% Loss Square On The Chin

Simply Wall St

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As an investor, mistakes are inevitable. But you have a problem if you face massive losses more than once in a while. So spare a thought for the long term shareholders of R.R. Donnelley & Sons Company (NYSE:RRD); the share price is down a whopping 96% in the last three years. That would be a disturbing experience. And over the last year the share price fell 63%, so we doubt many shareholders are delighted. Shareholders have had an even rougher run lately, with the share price down 53% in the last 90 days.

We really hope anyone holding through that price crash has a diversified portfolio. Even when you lose money, you don't have to lose the lesson.

Check out our latest analysis for R.R. Donnelley & Sons

While the efficient markets hypothesis continues to be taught by some, it has been proven that markets are over-reactive dynamic systems, and investors are not always rational. By comparing earnings per share (EPS) and share price changes over time, we can get a feel for how investor attitudes to a company have morphed over time.

R.R. Donnelley & Sons became profitable within the last five years. On the other hand, it reported a trailing twelve months loss, suggesting it isn't reliably profitable. Other metrics may better explain the share price move.

It's quite likely that the declining dividend has caused some investors to sell their shares, pushing the price lower in the process. In contrast it does not seem particularly likely that the revenue levels are a concern for investors.

The image below shows how earnings and revenue have tracked over time (if you click on the image you can see greater detail).

NYSE:RRD Income Statement, July 9th 2019

We consider it positive that insiders have made significant purchases in the last year. Having said that, most people consider earnings and revenue growth trends to be a more meaningful guide to the business. You can see what analysts are predicting for R.R. Donnelley & Sons 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. 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. It's fair to say that the TSR gives a more complete picture for stocks that pay a dividend. As it happens, R.R. Donnelley & Sons's TSR for the last 3 years was -91%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.

A Different Perspective

Investors in R.R. Donnelley & Sons had a tough year, with a total loss of 63% (including dividends), against a market gain of about 6.2%. Even the share prices of good stocks drop sometimes, but we want to see improvements in the fundamental metrics of a business, before getting too interested. Unfortunately, last year's performance may indicate unresolved challenges, given that it was worse than the annualised loss of 35% over the last half decade. Generally speaking long term share price weakness can be a bad sign, though contrarian investors might want to research the stock in hope of a turnaround. 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.

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 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.