We think intelligent long term investing is the way to go. But no-one is immune from buying too high. Zooming in on an example, the Noble Energy, Inc. (NYSE:NBL) share price dropped 67% in the last half decade. That is extremely sub-optimal, to say the least. We also note that the stock has performed poorly over the last year, with the share price down 35%. Unfortunately the share price momentum is still quite negative, with prices down 18% in thirty days.
Noble Energy isn't a profitable company, so 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. When a company doesn't make profits, we'd generally expect to see good 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.
Over five years, Noble Energy grew its revenue at 1.9% per year. That's far from impressive given all the money it is losing. This lacklustre growth has no doubt fueled the loss of 20% per year, in that time. We want to see an acceleration of revenue growth (or profits) before showing much interest in this one. However, it's possible too many in the market will ignore it, and there may be an opportunity if it starts to recover down the track.
The image below shows how earnings and revenue have tracked over time (if you click on the image you can see greater detail).
Noble Energy is a well known stock, with plenty of analyst coverage, suggesting some visibility into future growth. You can see what analysts are predicting for Noble Energy in this interactive graph of future profit estimates.
What About Dividends?
As well as measuring the share price return, investors should also consider the total shareholder return (TSR). 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. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. In the case of Noble Energy, it has a TSR of -64% for the last 5 years. That exceeds its share price return that we previously mentioned. And there's no prize for guessing that the dividend payments largely explain the divergence!
A Different Perspective
While the broader market gained around 9.2% in the last year, Noble Energy shareholders lost 33% (even including dividends) . However, keep in mind that even the best stocks will sometimes underperform the market over a twelve month period. Regrettably, last year's performance caps off a bad run, with the shareholders facing a total loss of 19% per year over five years. 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 Noble Energy it might be wise to click here to see if insiders have been buying or selling shares.
But note: Noble Energy 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.