If You Had Bought Renewi (LON:RWI) Stock Three Years Ago, You'd Be Sitting On A 72% Loss, Today

Simply Wall St

While not a mind-blowing move, it is good to see that the Renewi plc (LON:RWI) share price has gained 12% in the last three months. But that is small recompense for the exasperating returns over three years. Indeed, the share price is down a tragic 72% in the last three years. So the improvement may be a real relief to some. While many would remain nervous, there could be further gains if the business can put its best foot forward.

View our latest analysis for Renewi

Renewi 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.

In the last three years, Renewi saw its revenue grow by 34% per year, compound. That is faster than most pre-profit companies. So on the face of it we're really surprised to see the share price down 35% a year in the same time period. The share price makes us wonder if there is an issue with profitability. Sometimes fast revenue growth doesn't lead to profits. If the company is low on cash, it may have to raise capital soon.

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

LSE:RWI Income Statement, October 10th 2019

We consider it positive that insiders have made significant purchases in the last year. Having said that, most people consider earnings and revenue growth trends to be a more meaningful guide to the business. So it makes a lot of sense to check out what analysts think Renewi will earn in the future (free profit forecasts).

What About Dividends?

As well as measuring the share price return, investors should also consider the total shareholder return (TSR). Whereas the share price return only reflects the change in the share price, the TSR includes the value of dividends (assuming they were reinvested) and the benefit of any discounted capital raising or spin-off. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. In the case of Renewi, it has a TSR of -64% for the last 3 years. That exceeds its share price return that we previously mentioned. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!

A Different Perspective

Investors in Renewi had a tough year, with a total loss of 45% (including dividends) , against a market gain of about 4.7%. 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 13% 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. Investors who like to make money usually check up on insider purchases, such as the price paid, and total amount bought. You can find out about the insider purchases of Renewi by clicking this link.

If you like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).

Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on GB 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 editorial-team@simplywallst.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.