Are Superior Plus’s (TSE:SPB) Statutory Earnings A Good Guide To Its Underlying Profitability?

As a general rule, we think profitable companies are less risky than companies that lose money. Having said that, sometimes statutory profit levels are not a good guide to ongoing profitability, because some short term one-off factor has impacted profit levels. Today we’ll focus on whether this year’s statutory profits are a good guide to understanding Superior Plus (TSE:SPB).

We like the fact that Superior Plus made a profit of CA$19.7m on its revenue of CA$2.90b, in the last year.

See our latest analysis for Superior Plus

TSX:SPB Income Statement, January 23rd 2020
TSX:SPB Income Statement, January 23rd 2020

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. In this article we’ll look at how Superior Plus 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. Superior Plus expanded the number of shares on issue by 17% over the last year. As a result, its net income is now split between a greater number of shares. To celebrate net income while ignoring dilution is like rejoicing because you have a single slice of a larger pizza, but ignoring the fact that the pizza is now cut into many more slices. Check out Superior Plus’s historical EPS growth by clicking on this link.

How Is Dilution Impacting Superior Plus’s Earnings Per Share? (EPS)

As it happens, we don’t know how much the company made or lost three years ago, because we don’t have the data. And even focusing only on the last twelve months, we see profit is down 67%. Sadly, earnings per share fell further, down a full 72% in that time. 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 returnsAnd so, you can see quite clearly that dilution is influencing shareholder earnings.

If Superior Plus’s EPS can grow over time then that drastically improves the chances of the share price moving in the same direction. However, if its profit increases while its earnings per share stay flat (or even fall) then shareholders might not see much benefit. 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

On top of the dilution, we should also consider the CA$65m impact of unusual items in the last year, which had the effect of suppressing profit. 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 Superior Plus to produce a higher profit next year, all else being equal.

Our Take On Superior Plus’s Profit Performance

Superior Plus 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 unfortunately the dilution means that shareholders now own a smaller proportion of the company (assuming they maintained the same number of shares). That will weigh on earnings per share, even if it is not reflected in net income. Given the contrasting considerations, we’re don’t have a strong view as to whether Superior Plus’s profits are an apt reflection of its underlying potential for profit. 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. Luckily, you can check out what analysts are forecsting by clicking here.

In this article we’ve looked at a number of factors that can impair the utility of profit numbers, as a guide to a business. 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. 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.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Thank you for reading.