While some are satisfied with an index fund, active investors aim to find truly magnificent investments on the stock market. When an investor finds a multi-bagger (a stock that goes up over 200%), it makes a big difference to their portfolio. For example, SM Energy Company (NYSE:SM) has generated a beautiful 349% return in just a single year. It's also good to see the share price up 24% over the last quarter. This could be related to the recent financial results, released recently - you can catch up on the most recent data by reading our company report. On the other hand, longer term shareholders have had a tougher run, with the stock falling 28% in three years.
SM Energy wasn't profitable in the last twelve months, 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. Shareholders of unprofitable companies usually expect strong revenue growth. Some companies are willing to postpone profitability to grow revenue faster, but in that case one does expect good top-line growth.
SM Energy actually shrunk its revenue over the last year, with a reduction of 24%. So it's very confusing to see that the share price gained a whopping 349%. There can be no doubt this kind of decoupling of revenue growth and share price growth is unusual to see in loss making companies. While this gain looks like speculative buying to us, sometimes speculation pays off.
The image below shows how earnings and revenue have tracked over time (if you click on the image you can see greater detail).
You can see how its balance sheet has strengthened (or weakened) over time in this free interactive graphic.
What About Dividends?
When looking at investment returns, it is important to consider the difference between total shareholder return (TSR) and share price return. 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 SM Energy, it has a TSR of 352% for the last year. That exceeds its share price return that we previously mentioned. And there's no prize for guessing that the dividend payments largely explain the divergence!
A Different Perspective
It's nice to see that SM Energy shareholders have received a total shareholder return of 352% over the last year. That's including the dividend. That certainly beats the loss of about 7% per year over the last half decade. We generally put more weight on the long term performance over the short term, but the recent improvement could hint at a (positive) inflection point within the business. It's always interesting to track share price performance over the longer term. But to understand SM Energy better, we need to consider many other factors. Consider for instance, the ever-present spectre of investment risk. We've identified 2 warning signs with SM Energy , and understanding them should be part of your investment process.
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.
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. 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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