Should You Use Imperial Oil’s (TSE:IMO) Statutory Earnings To Analyse It?

It might be old fashioned, but we really like to invest in companies that make a profit, each and every year. 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. This article will consider whether Imperial Oil‘s (TSE:IMO) statutory profits are a good guide to its underlying earnings.

We like the fact that Imperial Oil made a profit of CA$2.20b on its revenue of CA$34.0b, in the last year. The chart below shows that it has grown revenue over the last three years, while profit has remained roughly flat.

Check out our latest analysis for Imperial Oil

TSX:IMO Income Statement April 30th 2020
TSX:IMO Income Statement April 30th 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 discuss how a tax benefit impacted Imperial Oil’s most recent profit results. 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.

An Unusual Tax Situation

Imperial Oil reported a tax benefit of CA$154m, which is well worth noting. This is of course a bit out of the ordinary, given it is more common for companies to be paying tax than receiving tax benefits! We’re sure the company was pleased with its tax benefit. However, the devil in the detail is that these kind of benefits only impact in the year they are booked, and are often one-off in nature. In the likely event the tax benefit is not repeated, we’d expect to see its statutory profit levels drop, at least in the absence of strong growth.

Our Take On Imperial Oil’s Profit Performance

Imperial Oil reported that it received a tax benefit, rather than paid tax, in its last report. As a result we don’t think its profit result, which includes that tax-boost, is a good guide to its sustainable profit levels. Because of this, we think that it may be that Imperial Oil’s statutory profits are better than its underlying earnings power. But at least holders can take some solace from the 13% per annum growth in EPS for the last three. At the end of the day, it’s essential to consider more than just the factors above, if you want to understand the company properly. With this in mind, we wouldn’t consider investing in a stock unless we had a thorough understanding of the risks. Our analysis shows 2 warning signs for Imperial Oil (1 is concerning!) and we strongly recommend you look at them before investing.

Today we’ve zoomed in on a single data point to better understand the nature of Imperial Oil’s profit. But there are plenty of other ways to inform your opinion of a company. 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. 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.

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.