For many investors, the main point of stock picking is to generate higher returns than the overall market. But if you try your hand at stock picking, your risk returning less than the market. We regret to report that long term InterDigital, Inc. (NASDAQ:IDCC) shareholders have had that experience, with the share price dropping 39% in three years, versus a market return of about 50%. The silver lining is that the stock is up 1.9% in about a week.
While InterDigital made a small profit, in the last year, we think that the market is probably more focussed on the top line growth at the moment. As a general rule, we think this kind of company is more comparable to loss-making stocks, since the actual profit is so low. It would be hard to believe in a more profitable future without growing revenues.
Over the last three years, InterDigital's revenue dropped 28% per year. That's definitely a weaker result than most pre-profit companies report. With revenue in decline, the share price decline of 15% per year is hardly undeserved. The key question now is whether the company has the capacity to fund itself to profitability, without more cash. The company will need to return to revenue growth as quickly as possible, if it wants to see some enthusiasm from investors.
You can see below how earnings and revenue have changed over time (discover the exact values by clicking on the image).
This free interactive report on InterDigital's balance sheet strength is a great place to start, if you want to investigate the stock further.
What About Dividends?
When looking at investment returns, it is important to consider the difference between total shareholder return (TSR) and share price return. 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. As it happens, InterDigital's TSR for the last 3 years was -35%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!
A Different Perspective
While the broader market gained around 27% in the last year, InterDigital shareholders lost 20% (even including dividends) . However, keep in mind that even the best stocks will sometimes underperform the market over a twelve month period. Longer term investors wouldn't be so upset, since they would have made 3.1%, each year, over five years. If the fundamental data continues to indicate long term sustainable growth, the current sell-off could be an opportunity worth considering. Shareholders might want to examine this detailed historical graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow.
If you are like me, then you will 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.
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.
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