Benefitfocus (NASDAQ:BNFT) shareholders have endured a 77% loss from investing in the stock three years ago

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Every investor on earth makes bad calls sometimes. But you want to avoid the really big losses like the plague. So consider, for a moment, the misfortune of Benefitfocus, Inc. (NASDAQ:BNFT) investors who have held the stock for three years as it declined a whopping 77%. That’d be enough to cause even the strongest minds some disquiet. Shareholders have had an even rougher run lately, with the share price down 13% in the last 90 days. We note that the company has reported results fairly recently; and the market is hardly delighted. You can check out the latest numbers in our company report.

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 Benefitfocus

Given that Benefitfocus 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.

In the last three years, Benefitfocus saw its revenue grow by 0.7% per year, compound. That’s not a very high growth rate considering it doesn’t make profits. But the share price crash at 21% per year does seem a bit harsh! While we’re definitely wary of the stock, after that kind of performance, it could be an over-reaction. Before considering a purchase, take a look at the losses the company is racking up.

The image below shows how earnings and revenue have tracked over time (if you click on the image you can see greater detail).

earnings-and-revenue-growth

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

A Different Perspective

Investors in Benefitfocus had a tough year, with a total loss of 18%, against a market gain of about 26%. However, keep in mind that even the best stocks will sometimes underperform the market over a twelve month period. Regrettably, last year’s performance caps off a bad run, with the shareholders facing a total loss of 10% per year over five years. 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. Case in point: We’ve spotted 3 warning signs for Benefitfocus you should be aware of, and 1 of them makes us a bit uncomfortable.

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. 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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