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Such Is Life: How Noble Energy (NYSE:NBL) Shareholders Saw Their Shares Drop 62%

Simply Wall St

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While it may not be enough for some shareholders, we think it is good to see the Noble Energy, Inc. (NYSE:NBL) share price up 23% in a single quarter. But that doesn't change the fact that the returns over the last half decade have been disappointing. In that time the share price has delivered a rude shock to holders, who find themselves down 62% after a long stretch. Some might say the recent bounce is to be expected after such a bad drop. However, in the best case scenario (far from fait accompli), this improved performance might be sustained.

View our latest analysis for Noble Energy

Noble Energy isn't currently profitable, so most analysts would look to revenue growth to get an idea of how fast the underlying business is growing. Generally speaking, companies without profits are expected to grow revenue every year, and at a good clip. That's because fast revenue growth can be easily extrapolated to forecast profits, often of considerable size.

In the last five years Noble Energy saw its revenue shrink by 2.0% per year. While far from catastrophic that is not good. The share price decline of 18% compound, over five years, is understandable given the company is losing money, and revenue is moving in the wrong direction. The chance of imminent investor enthusiasm for this stock seems slimmer than Louise Brooks. Not that many investors like to invest in companies that are losing money and not growing revenue.

The graphic below shows how revenue and earnings have changed as management guided the business forward. If you want to see cashflow, you can click on the chart.

NYSE:NBL Income Statement, April 29th 2019

Noble Energy is well known by investors, and plenty of clever analysts have tried to predict the future profit levels. If you are thinking of buying or selling Noble Energy stock, you should check out this free report showing analyst consensus estimates for future profits.

What About Dividends?

It is important to consider the total shareholder return, as well as the share price return, for any given stock. The TSR incorporates the value of any spin-offs or discounted capital raisings, along with any dividends, based on the assumption that the dividends are reinvested. It's fair to say that the TSR gives a more complete picture for stocks that pay a dividend. We note that for Noble Energy the TSR over the last 5 years was -59%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.

A Different Perspective

While the broader market gained around 11% in the last year, Noble Energy shareholders lost 18% (even including dividends). 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 16% 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. Most investors take the time to check the data on insider transactions. You can click here to see if insiders have been buying or selling.

Of course Noble Energy may not be the best stock to buy. So you may wish to see this free collection of growth stocks.

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.