The worst result, after buying shares in a company (assuming no leverage), would be if you lose all the money you put in. But if you buy shares in a really great company, you can more than double your money. To wit, the Hecla Mining Company (NYSE:HL) share price has flown 101% in the last three years. How nice for those who held the stock! The last week saw the share price soften some 3.5%.
Although Hecla Mining has shed US$64m from its market cap this week, let's take a look at its longer term fundamental trends and see if they've driven returns.
We don't think that Hecla Mining's modest trailing twelve month profit has the market's full attention at the moment. We think revenue is probably a better guide. Generally speaking, we'd consider a stock like this alongside loss-making companies, simply because the quantum of the profit is so low. For shareholders to have confidence a company will grow profits significantly, it must grow revenue.
Hecla Mining's revenue trended up 10% each year over three years. That's a very respectable growth rate. It's fair to say that the market has acknowledged the growth by pushing the share price up 26% per year. The business has made good progress on the top line, but the market is extrapolating the growth. Some investors like to buy in just after a company becomes profitable, since that can be a powerful inflexion point.
You can see how earnings and revenue have changed over time in the image below (click on the chart to see the exact values).
We're pleased to report that the CEO is remunerated more modestly than most CEOs at similarly capitalized companies. It's always worth keeping an eye on CEO pay, but a more important question is whether the company will grow earnings throughout the years. You can see what analysts are predicting for Hecla Mining in this interactive graph of future profit estimates.
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. It's fair to say that the TSR gives a more complete picture for stocks that pay a dividend. We note that for Hecla Mining the TSR over the last 3 years was 104%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.
A Different Perspective
We regret to report that Hecla Mining shareholders are down 24% for the year (even including dividends). Unfortunately, that's worse than the broader market decline of 15%. 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. Unfortunately, last year's performance may indicate unresolved challenges, given that it was worse than the annualised loss of 3% over the last half decade. 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. I find it very interesting to look at share price over the long term as a proxy for business performance. But to truly gain insight, we need to consider other information, too. To that end, you should be aware of the 3 warning signs we've spotted with Hecla Mining .
If you would prefer to check out another company -- one with potentially superior financials -- then do not miss this free list of companies that have proven they can grow earnings.
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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This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.
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