Are Ercros’s (BME:ECR) Statutory Earnings A Good Reflection Of Its Earnings Potential?

Statistically speaking, it is less risky to invest in profitable companies than in 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 Ercros (BME:ECR).

It’s good to see that over the last twelve months Ercros made a profit of €24.9m on revenue of €606.2m. In the last few years both its revenue and its profit have fallen, as you can see in the chart below.

See our latest analysis for Ercros

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BME:ECR Earnings and Revenue History August 30th 2020

Importantly, statutory profits are not always the best tool for understanding a company’s true earnings power, so it’s well worth examining profits in a little more detail. In this article we’ll look at how Ercros is impacting shareholders by issuing new shares, as well as how unusual items have affected the income line. 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.

To understand the value of a company’s earnings growth, it is imperative to consider any dilution of shareholders’ interests. In fact, Ercros increased the number of shares on issue by 8.7% over the last twelve months by issuing new shares. That means its earnings are split among a greater number of shares. Per share metrics like EPS help us understand how much actual shareholders are benefitting from the company’s profits, while the net income level gives us a better view of the company’s absolute size. You can see a chart of Ercros’ EPS by clicking here.

A Look At The Impact Of Ercros’ Dilution on Its Earnings Per Share (EPS).

Unfortunately, Ercros’ profit is down 50% per year over three years. And even focusing only on the last twelve months, we see profit is down 7.6%. Like a sack of potatoes thrown from a delivery truck, EPS fell harder, down 5.1% in the same period. So you can see that the dilution has had a bit of an impact on shareholders. Therefore, the dilution is having a noteworthy influence on shareholder returns. And so, you can see quite clearly that dilution is influencing shareholder earnings.

In the long term, if Ercros’ earnings per share can increase, then the share price should too. But on the other hand, we’d be far less excited to learn profit (but not EPS) was improving. For the ordinary retail shareholder, EPS is a great measure to check your hypothetical “share” of the company’s profit.

The Impact Of Unusual Items On Profit

Alongside that dilution, it’s also important to note that Ercros’ profit suffered from unusual items, which reduced profit by €10.9m in the last twelve months. 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, after all, that’s exactly what the accounting terminology implies. In the twelve months to June 2020, Ercros had a big unusual items expense. As a result, we can surmise that the unusual items made its statutory profit significantly weaker than it would otherwise be.

Our Take On Ercros’ Profit Performance

Ercros suffered from unusual items which depressed its profit in its last report; if that is not repeated then profit should be higher, all else being equal. But on the other hand, the company issued more shares, so without buying more shares each shareholder will end up with a smaller part of the profit. Based on these factors, we think that Ercros’ profits are a reasonably conservative guide to its underlying profitability. With this in mind, we wouldn’t consider investing in a stock unless we had a thorough understanding of the risks. While conducting our analysis, we found that Ercros has 3 warning signs and it would be unwise to ignore these.

Our examination of Ercros has focussed on certain factors that can make its earnings look better than they are. But there is always more to discover if you are capable of focussing your mind on minutiae. 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.

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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. 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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