Long term investing works well, but it doesn't always work for each individual stock. We don't wish catastrophic capital loss on anyone. For example, we sympathize with anyone who was caught holding Dawson Geophysical Company (NASDAQ:DWSN) during the five years that saw its share price drop a whopping 78%. And we doubt long term believers are the only worried holders, since the stock price has declined 63% over the last twelve months. The falls have accelerated recently, with the share price down 12% in the last three months.
Dawson Geophysical 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. 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.
In the last five years Dawson Geophysical saw its revenue shrink by 13% per 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 26% 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 image below shows how earnings and revenue have tracked over time (if you click on the image you can see greater detail).
This free interactive report on Dawson Geophysical's balance sheet strength is a great place to start, if you want to investigate the stock further.
A Different Perspective
Investors in Dawson Geophysical had a tough year, with a total loss of 63%, against a market gain of about 14%. 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 26% 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. If you would like to research Dawson Geophysical in more detail then you might want to take a look at whether insiders have been buying or selling shares in the company.
We will like Dawson Geophysical better if we see some big insider buys. While we wait, check out this free list of growing companies with considerable, recent, insider 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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If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at email@example.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.