Are Devon Energy’s (NYSE:DVN) Statutory Earnings A Good Guide To Its Underlying Profitability?

Broadly speaking, profitable businesses are less risky than unprofitable ones. 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 Devon Energy (NYSE:DVN).

While Devon Energy was able to generate revenue of US$9.51b in the last twelve months, we think its profit result of US$1.26b was more important. Even though revenue is down over the last three years, you can see in the chart below that the company has moved from loss-making to profitable.

See our latest analysis for Devon Energy

NYSE:DVN Income Statement, January 16th 2020
NYSE:DVN Income Statement, January 16th 2020

Of course, when it comes to statutory profit, the devil is often in the detail, and we can get a better sense for a company by diving deeper into the financial statements. This article will focus on the impact unusual items have had on Devon Energy’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?

For anyone who wants to understand Devon Energy’s profit beyond the statutory numbers, it’s important to note that during the last twelve months statutory profit gained from US$210m worth of unusual items. While it’s always nice to have higher profit, a large contribution from unusual items sometimes dampens our enthusiasm. When we analysed the vast majority of listed companies worldwide, we found that significant unusual items are often not repeated. And, after all, that’s exactly what the accounting terminology implies. Assuming those unusual items don’t show up again in the current year, we’d thus expect profit to be weaker next year (in the absence of business growth, that is).

Our Take On Devon Energy’s Profit Performance

Arguably, Devon Energy’s statutory earnings have been distorted by unusual items boosting profit. Because of this, we think that it may be that Devon Energy’s statutory profits are better than its underlying earnings power. On the bright side, the company showed enough improvement to book a profit this year, after losing money last year. Of course, we’ve only just scratched the surface when it comes to analysing its earnings; one could also consider margins, forecast growth, and return on investment, among other factors. While it’s really important to consider how well a company’s statutory earnings represent its true earnings power, it’s also worth taking a look at what analysts are forecasting for the future. So feel free to check out our free graph representing analyst forecasts.

This note has only looked at a single factor that sheds light on the nature of Devon Energy’s profit. But there is always more to discover if you are capable of focussing your mind on minutiae. Some people consider a high return on equity to be a good sign of a quality business. So you may wish to see this free collection of companies boasting high return on equity, or this list of stocks that insiders are buying.

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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