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The past five years for FreightCar America (NASDAQ:RAIL) investors has not been profitable

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We're definitely into long term investing, but some companies are simply bad investments over any time frame. It hits us in the gut when we see fellow investors suffer a loss. For example, we sympathize with anyone who was caught holding FreightCar America, Inc. (NASDAQ:RAIL) during the five years that saw its share price drop a whopping 79%. And it's not just long term holders hurting, because the stock is down 38% in the last year. The falls have accelerated recently, with the share price down 39% in the last three months. But this could be related to the weak market, which is down 18% in the same period.

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.

Check out our latest analysis for FreightCar America

Given that FreightCar America didn't make a profit in the last twelve months, we'll focus on revenue growth to form a quick view of its business development. Generally speaking, companies without profits are expected to grow revenue every year, and at a good clip. As you can imagine, fast revenue growth, when maintained, often leads to fast profit growth.

Over half a decade FreightCar America reduced its trailing twelve month revenue by 25% for each year. That's definitely a weaker result than most pre-profit companies report. So it's not altogether surprising to see the share price down 12% per year in the same time period. This kind of price performance makes us very wary, especially when combined with falling revenue. Ironically, that behavior could create an opportunity for the contrarian investor - but only if there are good reasons to predict a brighter future.

The graphic below depicts how earnings and revenue have changed over time (unveil the exact values by clicking on the image).

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

It's probably worth noting we've seen significant insider buying in the last quarter, which we consider a positive. On the other hand, we think the revenue and earnings trends are much more meaningful measures of the business. You can see what analysts are predicting for FreightCar America in this interactive graph of future profit estimates.

A Different Perspective

We regret to report that FreightCar America shareholders are down 38% for the year. Unfortunately, that's worse than the broader market decline of 19%. Having said that, it's inevitable that some stocks will be oversold in a falling market. The key is to keep your eyes on the fundamental developments. Unfortunately, last year's performance may indicate unresolved challenges, given that it was worse than the annualised loss of 12% over the last half decade. 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. It's always interesting to track share price performance over the longer term. But to understand FreightCar America better, we need to consider many other factors. For instance, we've identified 6 warning signs for FreightCar America (2 make us uncomfortable) 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.

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

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.