Are Alliance Data Systems’s (NYSE:ADS) Statutory Earnings A Good Reflection Of Its Earnings Potential?

As a general rule, we think profitable companies are less risky than companies that lose money. That said, the current statutory profit is not always a good guide to a company’s underlying profitability. Today we’ll focus on whether this year’s statutory profits are a good guide to understanding Alliance Data Systems (NYSE:ADS).

We like the fact that Alliance Data Systems made a profit of US$704.3m on its revenue of US$7.71b, in the last year. In the chart below, you can see that its profit and revenue have both grown over the last three years, although its profit has slipped in the last twelve months.

Check out our latest analysis for Alliance Data Systems

NYSE:ADS Income Statement, December 19th 2019
NYSE:ADS Income Statement, December 19th 2019

Of course, it is only sensible to look beyond the statutory profits and question how well those numbers represent the sustainable earnings power of the business. This article will focus on the impact unusual items have had on Alliance Data Systems’s statutory earnings. That might leave you wondering what analysts are forecasting in terms of future profitability. Luckily, you can click here to see an interactive graph depicting future profitability, based on their estimates.

How Do Unusual Items Influence Profit?

Importantly, our data indicates that Alliance Data Systems’s profit was reduced by US$157m, due to unusual items, over the last year. It’s never great to see unusual items costing the company profits, but on the upside, things might improve sooner rather than later. When we analysed the vast majority of listed companies worldwide, we found that significant unusual items are often not repeated. And that’s hardly a surprise given these line items are considered unusual. Assuming those unusual expenses don’t come up again, we’d therefore expect Alliance Data Systems to produce a higher profit next year, all else being equal.

Our Take On Alliance Data Systems’s Profit Performance

Because unusual items detracted from Alliance Data Systems’s earnings over the last year, you could argue that we can expect an improved result in the current quarter. Because of this, we think Alliance Data Systems’s earnings potential is at least as good as it seems, and maybe even better! And on top of that, its earnings per share have grown at 43% per year over the last three years. The goal of this article has been to assess how well we can rely on the statutory earnings to reflect the company’s potential, but there is plenty more to consider. Ultimately, this article has formed an opinion based on historical data. However, it can also be great to think about what analysts are forecasting for the future. So feel free to check out our free graph representing analyst forecasts.

Today we’ve zoomed in on a single data point to better understand the nature of Alliance Data Systems’s profit. But there are plenty of other ways to inform your opinion of a company. For example, many people consider a high return on equity as an indication of favorable business economics, while others like to ‘follow the money’ and search out stocks that insiders are buying. While it might take a little research on your behalf, you may find this free collection of companies boasting high return on equity, or this list of stocks that insiders are buying to be useful.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned.

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