It is a pleasure to report that the Resolute Forest Products Inc. (NYSE:RFP) is up 70% in the last quarter. But that doesn’t change the fact that the returns over the last half decade have been disappointing. In fact, the share price has declined rather badly, down some 72% in that time. Some might say the recent bounce is to be expected after such a bad drop. But it could be that the fall was overdone.
Resolute Forest Products isn’t currently profitable, so most analysts would look to revenue growth to get an idea of how fast the underlying business is growing. Generally speaking, companies without profits are expected to grow revenue every year, and at a good clip. That’s because fast revenue growth can be easily extrapolated to forecast profits, often of considerable size.
In the last five years Resolute Forest Products saw its revenue shrink by 4.0% per year. While far from catastrophic that is not good. The share price fall of 11% (per year, over five years) is a stern reminder that money-losing companies are expected to grow revenue. It takes a certain kind of mental fortitude (or recklessness) to buy shares in a company that loses money and doesn’t grow revenue. That is not really what the successful investors we know aim for.
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 consider it positive that insiders have made significant purchases in the last year. Even so, future earnings will be far more important to whether current shareholders make money. So we recommend checking out this free report showing consensus forecasts
What about the Total Shareholder Return (TSR)?
Investors should note that there’s a difference between Resolute Forest Products’ total shareholder return (TSR) and its share price change, which we’ve covered above. 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. Resolute Forest Products hasn’t been paying dividends, but its TSR of -67% exceeds its share price return of -72%, implying it has either spun-off a business, or raised capital at a discount; thereby providing additional value to shareholders.
A Different Perspective
While the broader market gained around 12% in the last year, Resolute Forest Products shareholders lost 61%. Even the share prices of good stocks drop sometimes, but we want to see improvements in the fundamental metrics of a business, before getting too interested. Unfortunately, last year’s performance may indicate unresolved challenges, given that it was worse than the annualised loss of 11% over the last half decade. We realise that Baron Rothschild 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 business. 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. Consider risks, for instance. Every company has them, and we’ve spotted 2 warning signs for Resolute Forest Products you should know about.
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 US exchanges.