The most you can lose on any stock (assuming you don't use leverage) is 100% of your money. But if you buy shares in a really great company, you can more than double your money. For instance the Stemline Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ:STML) share price is 150% higher than it was three years ago. How nice for those who held the stock! On top of that, the share price is up 31% in about a quarter.
With just US$500,000 worth of revenue in twelve months, we don't think the market considers Stemline Therapeutics to have proven its business plan. So it seems that the investors more focused on would could be, than paying attention to the current revenues (or lack thereof). For example, they may be hoping that Stemline Therapeutics comes up with a great new treatment, before it runs out of money.
Companies that lack both meaningful revenue and profits are usually considered high risk. You should be aware that there is always a chance that this sort of company will need to issue more shares to raise money to continue pursuing its business plan. While some such companies go on to make revenue, profits, and generate value, others get hyped up by hopeful naifs before eventually going bankrupt. Of course, if you time it right, high risk investments like this can really pay off, as Stemline Therapeutics investors might know.
Stemline Therapeutics had net cash of just US$39m when it last reported (December 2018). So if it hasn't remedied the situation already, it will almost certainly have to raise more capital soon. It's a testament to the popularity of the business plan that the share price gained 36% per year, over 3 years, despite the weak balance sheet. The image below shows how Stemline Therapeutics's balance sheet has changed over time; if you want to see the precise values, simply click on the image.
Of course, the truth is that it is hard to value companies without much revenue or profit. Given that situation, many of the best investors like to check if insiders have been buying shares. It's usually a positive if they have, as it may indicate they see value in the stock. Luckily we are in a position to provide you with this free chart of insider buying (and selling).
A Different Perspective
Stemline Therapeutics shareholders are down 21% for the year, but the market itself is up 9.9%. 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 2.7% 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 Stemline Therapeutics it might be wise to click here to see if insiders have been buying or selling shares.
For those who like to find winning investments this free list of growing companies with recent insider purchasing, could be just the ticket.
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.