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The past three years for Zovio (NASDAQ:ZVO) investors has not been profitable

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Zovio Inc (NASDAQ:ZVO) shareholders should be happy to see the share price up 11% in the last month. But that doesn't change the fact that the returns over the last three years have been stomach churning. The share price has sunk like a leaky ship, down 75% in that time. So it sure is nice to see a bit of an improvement. The thing to think about is whether the business has really turned around.

It's worthwhile assessing if the company's economics have been moving in lockstep with these underwhelming shareholder returns, or if there is some disparity between the two. So let's do just that.

See our latest analysis for Zovio

Because Zovio made a loss in the last twelve months, we think the market is probably more focussed on revenue and revenue growth, at least for now. Shareholders of unprofitable companies usually expect strong revenue growth. 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.

Over the last three years, Zovio's revenue dropped 7.7% per year. That's not what investors generally want to see. Having said that the 21% annualized share price decline highlights the risk of investing in unprofitable companies. We're generally averse to companies with declining revenues, but we're not alone in that. Don't let a share price decline ruin your calm. You make better decisions when you're calm.

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
earnings-and-revenue-growth

We're pleased to report that the CEO is remunerated more modestly than most CEOs at similarly capitalized companies. It's always worth keeping an eye on CEO pay, but a more important question is whether the company will grow earnings throughout the years. If you are thinking of buying or selling Zovio stock, you should check out this free report showing analyst profit forecasts.

A Different Perspective

Zovio shareholders are down 42% for the year, but the market itself is up 36%. 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. Regrettably, last year's performance caps off a bad run, with the shareholders facing a total loss of 10% per year over five years. Generally speaking long term share price weakness can be a bad sign, though contrarian investors might want to research the stock in hope of a turnaround. 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 for instance, the ever-present spectre of investment risk. We've identified 3 warning signs with Zovio (at least 1 which is a bit concerning) , and understanding them should be part of your investment process.

We will like Zovio 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 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.

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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