National Oilwell Varco, Inc. (NYSE:NOV) shareholders should be happy to see the share price up 13% in the last month. But that doesn't change the fact that the returns over the last half decade have been stomach churning. Five years have seen the share price descend precipitously, down a full 78%. So we don't gain too much confidence from the recent recovery. The real question is whether the business can leave its past behind and improve itself over the years ahead.
National Oilwell Varco isn't currently profitable, so most analysts would look to revenue growth to get an idea of how fast the underlying business is growing. When a company doesn't make profits, we'd generally expect to see good revenue growth. That's because fast revenue growth can be easily extrapolated to forecast profits, often of considerable size.
Over half a decade National Oilwell Varco reduced its trailing twelve month revenue by 23% for each year. That puts it in an unattractive cohort, to put it mildly. 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 company's revenue and earnings (over time) are depicted in the image below (click to see the exact numbers).
It's good to see that there was some significant insider buying in the last three months. That's a positive. That said, we think earnings and revenue growth trends are even more important factors to consider. You can see what analysts are predicting for National Oilwell Varco in this interactive graph of future profit estimates.
A Different Perspective
We regret to report that National Oilwell Varco shareholders are down 58% for the year (even including dividends) . Unfortunately, that's worse than the broader market decline of 0.8%. However, it could simply be that the share price has been impacted by broader market jitters. It might be worth keeping an eye on the fundamentals, in case there's a good opportunity. Regrettably, last year's performance caps off a bad run, with the shareholders facing a total loss of 25% per year over five years. 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 National Oilwell Varco better, we need to consider many other factors. For example, we've discovered 2 warning signs for National Oilwell Varco that you should be aware of before investing here.
National Oilwell Varco is not the only stock insiders are buying. So take a peek at this free list of growing companies with 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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