Here’s Why We Think Baby Bunting Group’s (ASX:BBN) Statutory Earnings Might Be Conservative

Many investors consider it preferable to invest in profitable companies over unprofitable ones, because profitability suggests a business is sustainable. However, sometimes companies receive a one-off boost (or reduction) to their profit, and it’s not always clear whether statutory profits are a good guide, going forward. This article will consider whether Baby Bunting Group’s (ASX:BBN) statutory profits are a good guide to its underlying earnings.

It’s good to see that over the last twelve months Baby Bunting Group made a profit of AU$9.99m on revenue of AU$405.2m. As you can see in the chart below, its profit has declined over the last three years, even though its revenue has increased.

Check out our latest analysis for Baby Bunting Group

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ASX:BBN Earnings and Revenue History September 17th 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. So today we’ll look at what Baby Bunting Group’s cashflow and unusual items tell us about the quality of its 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.

A Closer Look At Baby Bunting Group’s Earnings

As finance nerds would already know, the accrual ratio from cashflow is a key measure for assessing how well a company’s free cash flow (FCF) matches its profit. To get the accrual ratio we first subtract FCF from profit for a period, and then divide that number by the average operating assets for the period. The ratio shows us how much a company’s profit exceeds its FCF.

As a result, a negative accrual ratio is a positive for the company, and a positive accrual ratio is a negative. While having an accrual ratio above zero is of little concern, we do think it’s worth noting when a company has a relatively high accrual ratio. Notably, there is some academic evidence that suggests that a high accrual ratio is a bad sign for near-term profits, generally speaking.

For the year to June 2020, Baby Bunting Group had an accrual ratio of -0.23. That implies it has very good cash conversion, and that its earnings in the last year actually significantly understate its free cash flow. In fact, it had free cash flow of AU$42m in the last year, which was a lot more than its statutory profit of AU$9.99m. Baby Bunting Group’s free cash flow improved over the last year, which is generally good to see. Having said that, there is more to the story. We can see that unusual items have impacted its statutory profit, and therefore the accrual ratio.

The Impact Of Unusual Items On Profit

Baby Bunting Group’s profit was reduced by unusual items worth AU$5.8m in the last twelve months, and this helped it produce high cash conversion, as reflected by its unusual items. This is what you’d expect to see where a company has a non-cash charge reducing paper profits. While deductions due to unusual items are disappointing in the first instance, there is a silver lining. 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 expenses don’t come up again, we’d therefore expect Baby Bunting Group to produce a higher profit next year, all else being equal.

Our Take On Baby Bunting Group’s Profit Performance

In conclusion, both Baby Bunting Group’s accrual ratio and its unusual items suggest that its statutory earnings are probably reasonably conservative. Based on these factors, we think Baby Bunting Group’s underlying earnings potential is as good as, or probably even better, than the statutory profit makes it seem! In light of this, if you’d like to do more analysis on the company, it’s vital to be informed of the risks involved. For example – Baby Bunting Group has 3 warning signs we think you should be aware of.

Our examination of Baby Bunting Group has focussed on certain factors that can make its earnings look better than they are. And it has passed with flying colours. 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.

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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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