Vitamin Shoppe, Inc. (NYSE:VSI) shareholders should be happy to see the share price up 17% in the last month. But that doesn't change the fact that the returns over the last half decade have been stomach churning. In fact, the share price has tumbled down a mountain to land 88% lower after that period. It's true that the recent bounce could signal the company is turning over a new leaf, but we are not so sure. The fundamental business performance will ultimately determine if the turnaround can be sustained.
We really feel for shareholders in this scenario. It's a good reminder of the importance of diversification, and it's worth keeping in mind there's more to life than money, anyway.
While markets are a powerful pricing mechanism, share prices reflect investor sentiment, not just underlying business performance. One imperfect but simple way to consider how the market perception of a company has shifted is to compare the change in the earnings per share (EPS) with the share price movement.
During five years of share price growth, Vitamin Shoppe moved from a loss to profitability. That would generally be considered a positive, so we are surprised to see the share price is down. Other metrics may better explain the share price move.
The revenue decline of 1.3% isn't too bad. But if the market expected durable top line growth, then that could explain the share price weakness.
The company's revenue and earnings (over time) are depicted in the image below (click to see the exact numbers).
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. So it makes a lot of sense to check out what analysts think Vitamin Shoppe will earn in the future (free profit forecasts).
A Different Perspective
While the broader market gained around 1.2% in the last year, Vitamin Shoppe shareholders lost 59%. 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 35% 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. 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.
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