We’re definitely into long term investing, but some companies are simply bad investments over any time frame. We don’t wish catastrophic capital loss on anyone. Spare a thought for those who held Provident Financial plc (LON:PFG) for five whole years – as the share price tanked 89%. Shareholders have had an even rougher run lately, with the share price down 13% in the last 90 days. We really hope anyone holding through that price crash has a diversified portfolio. Even when you lose money, you don’t have to lose the lesson.

Now let’s have a look at the company’s fundamentals, and see if the long term shareholder return has matched the performance of the underlying business.

View our latest analysis for Provident Financial

Provident Financial 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. Generally speaking, companies without profits are expected to grow revenue every year, and at a good clip. Some companies are willing to postpone profitability to grow revenue faster, but in that case one does expect good top-line growth.

In the last five years Provident Financial saw its revenue shrink by 16% per year. That puts it in an unattractive cohort, to put it mildly. So it’s not that strange that the share price dropped 14% per year in that period. We don’t think this is a particularly promising picture. Ironically, that behavior could create an opportunity for the contrarian investor – but only if there are good reasons to predict a brighter future.

You can see how earnings and revenue have changed over time in the image below (click on the chart to see the exact values).

earnings-and-revenue-growth

Take a more thorough look at Provident Financial’s financial health with this free report on its balance sheet.

What about the Total Shareholder Return (TSR)?

We’d be remiss not to mention the difference between Provident Financial’s total shareholder return (TSR) and its share price return. 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. Provident Financial’s TSR of was a loss of 84% for the 5 years. That wasn’t as bad as its share price return, because it has paid dividends.

A Different Perspective

It’s good to see that Provident Financial has rewarded shareholders with a total shareholder return of 16% in the last twelve months. Notably the five-year annualised TSR loss of 13% per year compares very unfavourably with the recent share price performance. 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. 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. Case in point: We’ve spotted 1 warning sign for Provident Financial you should be aware of.

We will like Provident Financial better if we see some big insider buys. While we wait, check out this free list of growing companies with considerable, recent, insider buying.

Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on GB 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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