Some stocks are best avoided. We really hate to see fellow investors lose their hard-earned money. For example, we sympathize with anyone who was caught holding Vertical Exploration Inc. (CVE:VERT) during the five years that saw its share price drop a whopping 73%. And it's not just long term holders hurting, because the stock is down 50% in the last year. Even worse, it's down 27% in about a month, which isn't fun at all.
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Vertical Exploration didn't have any revenue in the last year, so it's fair to say it doesn't yet have a proven product (or at least not one people are paying for). You have to wonder why venture capitalists aren't funding it. So it seems that the investors focused more on what could be, than paying attention to the current revenues (or lack thereof). For example, investors may be hoping that Vertical Exploration finds some valuable resources, before it runs out of money.
As a general rule, if a company doesn't have much revenue, and it loses money, then it is a high risk investment. There is usually a significant chance that they will need more money for business development, putting them at the mercy of capital markets. So the share price itself impacts the value of the shares (as it determines the cost of capital). While some such companies do very well over the long term, others become hyped up by promoters before eventually falling back down to earth, and going bankrupt (or being recapitalized). It certainly is a dangerous place to invest, as Vertical Exploration investors might realise.
Our data indicates that Vertical Exploration had CA$42,738 more in total liabilities than it had cash, when it last reported in November 2018. That makes it extremely high risk, in our view. But with the share price diving 23% per year, over 5 years, it's probably fair to say that some shareholders no longer believe the company will succeed. You can see in the image below, how Vertical Exploration's cash levels have changed over time (click to see the values).
It can be extremely risky to invest in a company that doesn't even have revenue. There's no way to know its value easily. Would it bother you if insiders were selling the stock? It would bother me, that's for sure. It only takes a moment for you to check whether we have identified any insider sales recently.
A Different Perspective
Vertical Exploration shareholders are down 50% for the year, but the market itself is up 1.0%. However, keep in mind that even the best stocks will sometimes underperform the market over a twelve month period. Unfortunately, last year's performance may indicate unresolved challenges, given that it was worse than the annualised loss of 23% over the last half decade. 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. Before spending more time on Vertical Exploration it might be wise to click here to see if insiders have been buying or selling shares.
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 CA 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 email@example.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.