Does Weir Group’s (LON:WEIR) Statutory Profit Adequately Reflect Its Underlying Profit?

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. In this article, we’ll look at how useful this year’s statutory profit is, when analysing Weir Group (LON:WEIR).

While Weir Group was able to generate revenue of UK£2.71b in the last twelve months, we think its profit result of UK£66.5m was more important. The chart below shows that revenue has improved over the last three years, and, even better, the company has moved from unprofitable to profitable.

Check out our latest analysis for Weir Group

LSE:WEIR Income Statement, December 11th 2019
LSE:WEIR Income Statement, December 11th 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. Therefore, today we will consider the nature of Weir Group’s statutory earnings with reference to its dilution of shareholders and the impact of unusual items. 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.

In order to understand the potential for per share returns, it is essential to consider how much a company is diluting shareholders. In fact, Weir Group increased the number of shares on issue by 14% over the last twelve months by issuing new shares. Therefore, each share now receives a smaller portion of profit. 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. Check out Weir Group’s historical EPS growth by clicking on this link.

How Is Dilution Impacting Weir Group’s Earnings Per Share? (EPS)

Three years ago, Weir Group lost money. And even focusing only on the last twelve months, we see profit is down 65%. Like a sack of potatoes thrown from a delivery truck, EPS fell harder, down 69% 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 returnsAnd so, you can see quite clearly that dilution is influencing shareholder earnings.

If Weir Group’s EPS can grow over time then that drastically improves the chances of the share price moving in the same direction. But on the other hand, we’d be far less excited to learn profit (but not EPS) was improving. For that reason, you could say that EPS is more important that net income in the long run, assuming the goal is to assess whether a company’s share price might grow.

How Do Unusual Items Influence Profit?

On top of the dilution, we should also consider the UK£146m impact of unusual items in the last year, which had the effect of suppressing profit. While deductions due to unusual items are disappointing in the first instance, there is a silver lining. We looked at thousands of listed companies and found that unusual items are very often one-off in nature. And, after all, that’s exactly what the accounting terminology implies. In the twelve months to June 2019, Weir Group 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 Weir Group’s Profit Performance

Weir Group 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. Considering all the aforementioned, we’d venture that Weir Group’s profit result is a pretty good guide to its true profitability, albeit a bit on the conservative side. Obviously, we love to consider the historical data to inform our opinion of a company. But it can be really valuable to consider what other analysts are forecasting. So feel free to check out our free graph representing analyst forecasts.

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 are plenty of other ways to inform your opinion of a company. 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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