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It's not possible to invest over long periods without making some bad investments. But you have a problem if you face massive losses more than once in a while. So consider, for a moment, the misfortune of Sage Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ:SAGE) investors who have held the stock for three years as it declined a whopping 79%. That would certainly shake our confidence in the decision to own the stock. The more recent news is of little comfort, with the share price down 21% in a year.
It's worthwhile assessing if the company's economics have been moving in lockstep with these underwhelming shareholder returns, or if there is some disparity between the two. So let's do just that.
Sage Therapeutics wasn't profitable in the last twelve months, it is unlikely we'll see a strong correlation between its share price and its earnings per share (EPS). Arguably revenue is our next best option. Shareholders of unprofitable companies usually expect strong revenue growth. That's because it's hard to be confident a company will be sustainable if revenue growth is negligible, and it never makes a profit.
In the last three years, Sage Therapeutics saw its revenue grow by 66% per year, compound. That is faster than most pre-profit companies. So why has the share priced crashed 21% per year, in the same time? The share price makes us wonder if there is an issue with profitability. Ultimately, revenue growth doesn't amount to much if the business can't scale well. If the company is low on cash, it may have to raise capital soon.
You can see below how earnings and revenue have changed over time (discover the exact values by clicking on the image).
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. This free report showing analyst forecasts should help you form a view on Sage Therapeutics
A Different Perspective
While the broader market lost about 11% in the twelve months, Sage Therapeutics shareholders did even worse, losing 21%. However, it could simply be that the share price has been impacted by broader market jitters. It might be worth keeping an eye on the fundamentals, in case there's a good opportunity. Unfortunately, last year's performance may indicate unresolved challenges, given that it was worse than the annualised loss of 10% over the last half decade. We realise that Baron Rothschild 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. I find it very interesting to look at share price over the long term as a proxy for business performance. But to truly gain insight, we need to consider other information, too. For instance, we've identified 1 warning sign for Sage Therapeutics that you should be aware of.
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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This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.
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