Whitbread (LON:WTB) shareholders have endured a 28% loss from investing in the stock three years ago

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For many investors, the main point of stock picking is to generate higher returns than the overall market. But in any portfolio, there are likely to be some stocks that fall short of that benchmark. We regret to report that long term Whitbread plc (LON:WTB) shareholders have had that experience, with the share price dropping 39% in three years, versus a market decline of about 12%.

Since shareholders are down over the longer term, lets look at the underlying fundamentals over the that time and see if they’ve been consistent with returns.

See our latest analysis for Whitbread

Given that Whitbread only made minimal earnings in the last twelve months, we’ll focus on revenue to gauge its business development. As a general rule, we think this kind of company is more comparable to loss-making stocks, since the actual profit is so low. It would be hard to believe in a more profitable future without growing revenues.

Over the last three years, Whitbread’s revenue dropped 24% per year. That means its revenue trend is very weak compared to other loss making companies. On the face of it we’d posit the share price fall of 12% compound, over three years is well justified by the fundamental deterioration. It would probably be worth asking whether the company can fund itself to profitability. The company will need to return to revenue growth as quickly as possible, if it wants to see some enthusiasm from investors.

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

earnings-and-revenue-growth

Whitbread is well known by investors, and plenty of clever analysts have tried to predict the future profit levels. So it makes a lot of sense to check out what analysts think Whitbread will earn in the future (free analyst consensus estimates)

What About Dividends?

It is important to consider the total shareholder return, as well as the share price return, for any given stock. 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. Arguably, the TSR gives a more comprehensive picture of the return generated by a stock. In the case of Whitbread, it has a TSR of -28% for the last 3 years. That exceeds its share price return that we previously mentioned. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!

A Different Perspective

We regret to report that Whitbread shareholders are down 16% for the year (even including dividends). Unfortunately, that’s worse than the broader market decline of 3.3%. Having said that, it’s inevitable that some stocks will be oversold in a falling market. The key is to keep your eyes on the fundamental developments. 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. 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. While it is well worth considering the different impacts that market conditions can have on the share price, there are other factors that are even more important. Case in point: We’ve spotted 1 warning sign for Whitbread you should be aware of.

Of course Whitbread may not be the best stock to buy. So you may wish to see this free collection of growth stocks.

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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