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Amidst increasing losses, Investors bid up Metro Mining (ASX:MMI) 15% this past week

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It is doubtless a positive to see that the Metro Mining Limited (ASX:MMI) share price has gained some 53% in the last three months. But that doesn't change the fact that the returns over the last three years have been stomach churning. To wit, the share price sky-dived 84% in that time. So we're relieved for long term holders to see a bit of uplift. The thing to think about is whether the business has really turned around. We really feel for shareholders in this scenario. It's a good reminder of the importance of diversification, and it's worth keeping in mind there's more to life than money, anyway.

On a more encouraging note the company has added AU$9.0m to its market cap in just the last 7 days, so let's see if we can determine what's driven the three-year loss for shareholders.

See our latest analysis for Metro Mining

Metro Mining 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 three years, Metro Mining saw its revenue grow by 12% per year, compound. That's a pretty good rate of top-line growth. So it seems unlikely the 23% share price drop (each year) is entirely about the revenue. It could be that the losses were much larger than expected. This is exactly why investors need to diversify - even when a loss making company grows revenue, it can fail to deliver for shareholders.

The graphic below depicts how earnings and revenue have changed over time (unveil the exact values by clicking on the image).

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

Balance sheet strength is crucial. It might be well worthwhile taking a look at our free report on how its financial position has changed over time.

What about the Total Shareholder Return (TSR)?

We've already covered Metro Mining's 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. Metro Mining hasn't been paying dividends, but its TSR of -80% exceeds its share price return of -84%, 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 29% in the last year, Metro Mining shareholders lost 56%. However, keep in mind that even the best stocks will sometimes underperform the market over a twelve month period. Unfortunately, last year's performance may indicate unresolved challenges, given that it was worse than the annualised loss of 12% 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. It's always interesting to track share price performance over the longer term. But to understand Metro Mining better, we need to consider many other factors. Case in point: We've spotted 3 warning signs for Metro Mining you should be aware of, and 1 of them is concerning.

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 AU 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.

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

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