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A Look At United States Steel's (NYSE:X) Share Price Returns

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·4 min read
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As an investor, mistakes are inevitable. But you want to avoid the really big losses like the plague. So spare a thought for the long term shareholders of United States Steel Corporation (NYSE:X); the share price is down a whopping 71% in the last three years. That would certainly shake our confidence in the decision to own the stock. And the ride hasn't got any smoother in recent times over the last year, with the price 34% lower in that time. Unhappily, the share price slid 4.8% in the last week.

See our latest analysis for United States Steel

Because United States Steel made a loss in the last twelve months, we think the market is probably more focussed on revenue and revenue growth, at least for now. Generally speaking, companies without profits are expected to grow revenue every year, and at a good clip. Some companies are willing to postpone profitability to grow revenue faster, but in that case one does expect good top-line growth.

Over three years, United States Steel grew revenue at 1.5% per year. That's not a very high growth rate considering it doesn't make profits. Nonetheless, it's fair to say the rapidly declining share price (down 20%, compound, over three years) suggests the market is very disappointed with this level of growth. We generally don't try to 'catch the falling knife'. Of course, revenue growth is nice but generally speaking the lower the profits, the riskier the business - and this business isn't making steady profits.

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

earnings-and-revenue-growth
earnings-and-revenue-growth

United States Steel is a well known stock, with plenty of analyst coverage, suggesting some visibility into future growth. Given we have quite a good number of analyst forecasts, it might be well worth checking out this free chart depicting consensus estimates.

What about the Total Shareholder Return (TSR)?

We've already covered United States Steel's share price action, but we should also mention its total shareholder return (TSR). Arguably the TSR is a more complete return calculation because it accounts for the value of dividends (as if they were reinvested), along with the hypothetical value of any discounted capital that have been offered to shareholders. Its history of dividend payouts mean that United States Steel's TSR, which was a 70% drop over the last 3 years, was not as bad as the share price return.

A Different Perspective

While the broader market gained around 18% in the last year, United States Steel shareholders lost 34% (even including dividends). 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. Regrettably, last year's performance caps off a bad run, with the shareholders facing a total loss of 5.4% per year over five years. 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. 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. Take risks, for example - United States Steel has 1 warning sign we think you should be aware of.

But note: United States Steel may not be the best stock to buy. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with past earnings growth (and further growth forecast).

Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on US exchanges.

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. 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.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team@simplywallst.com.