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SolarWinds (NYSE:SWI) shareholders have endured a 49% loss from investing in the stock three years ago

As an investor its worth striving to ensure your overall portfolio beats the market average. But in any portfolio, there are likely to be some stocks that fall short of that benchmark. Unfortunately, that's been the case for longer term SolarWinds Corporation (NYSE:SWI) shareholders, since the share price is down 75% in the last three years, falling well short of the market return of around 49%. And over the last year the share price fell 33%, so we doubt many shareholders are delighted.

It's worthwhile assessing if the company's economics have been moving in lockstep with these underwhelming shareholder returns, or if there is some disparity between the two. So let's do just that.

Check out our latest analysis for SolarWinds

Given that SolarWinds didn't make a profit in the last twelve months, we'll focus on revenue growth to form a quick view of its business development. Generally speaking, companies without profits are expected to grow revenue every year, and at a good clip. 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.

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In the last three years SolarWinds saw its revenue shrink by 4.4% per year. That's not what investors generally want to see. Having said that the 21% annualized share price decline highlights the risk of investing in unprofitable companies. We're generally averse to companies with declining revenues, but we're not alone in that. There's no more than a snowball's chance in hell that share price will head back to its old highs, in the short term.

The company's revenue and earnings (over time) are depicted in the image below (click to see the exact numbers).

earnings-and-revenue-growth
earnings-and-revenue-growth

This free interactive report on SolarWinds' balance sheet strength is a great place to start, if you want to investigate the stock further.

What About The Total Shareholder Return (TSR)?

We've already covered SolarWinds' share price action, but we should also mention its total shareholder return (TSR). The TSR is a return calculation that accounts for the value of cash dividends (assuming that any dividend received was reinvested) and the calculated value of any discounted capital raisings and spin-offs. We note that SolarWinds' TSR, at -49% is higher than its share price return of -75%. When you consider it hasn't been paying a dividend, this data suggests shareholders have benefitted from a spin-off, or had the opportunity to acquire attractively priced shares in a discounted capital raising.

A Different Perspective

The last twelve months weren't great for SolarWinds shares, which performed worse than the market, costing holders 33%. The market shed around 6.7%, no doubt weighing on the stock price. Shareholders have lost 14% per year over the last three years, so the share price drop has become steeper, over the last year; a potential symptom of as yet unsolved challenges. We would be wary of buying into a company with unsolved problems, although some investors will buy into struggling stocks if they believe the price is sufficiently attractive. You could get a better understanding of SolarWinds' growth by checking out this more detailed historical graph of earnings, revenue and cash flow.

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 American exchanges.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.

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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