Broadly speaking, profitable businesses are less risky than unprofitable ones. 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 Excelpoint Technology‘s (SGX:BDF) statutory profits are a good guide to its underlying earnings.
It’s good to see that over the last twelve months Excelpoint Technology made a profit of US$3.19m on revenue of US$989.8m. As you can see in the chart below, its profit has declined over the last three years, even though its revenue has increased.
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. Therefore, we think it’s worth taking a closer look at Excelpoint Technology’s cashflow, as well as examining the impact that unusual items have had on its reported profit. Note: we always recommend investors check balance sheet strength. Click here to be taken to our balance sheet analysis of Excelpoint Technology.
A Closer Look At Excelpoint Technology’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. The accrual ratio subtracts the FCF from the profit for a given period, and divides the result by the average operating assets of the company over that time. This ratio tells us how much of a company’s profit is not backed by free cashflow.
That means a negative accrual ratio is a good thing, because it shows that the company is bringing in more free cash flow than its profit would suggest. 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. To quote a 2014 paper by Lewellen and Resutek, “firms with higher accruals tend to be less profitable in the future”.
Excelpoint Technology has an accrual ratio of -0.36 for the year to September 2019. That implies it has very good cash conversion, and that its earnings in the last year actually significantly understate its free cash flow. To wit, it produced free cash flow of US$74m during the period, dwarfing its reported profit of US$3.19m. Notably, Excelpoint Technology had negative free cash flow last year, so the US$74m it produced this year was a welcome improvement.
However, that’s not all there is to consider. We can see that unusual items have impacted its statutory profit, and therefore the accrual ratio.
The Impact Of Unusual Items On Profit
Excelpoint Technology’s profit was reduced by unusual items worth US$1.7m 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. 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. If Excelpoint Technology doesn’t see those unusual expenses repeat, then all else being equal we’d expect its profit to increase over the coming year.
Our Take On Excelpoint Technology’s Profit Performance
In conclusion, both Excelpoint Technology’s accrual ratio and its unusual items suggest that its statutory earnings are probably reasonably conservative. Based on these factors, we think Excelpoint Technology’s underlying earnings potential is as good as, or probably even better, than the statutory profit makes it seem! Just as investors must consider earnings, it is also important to take into account the strength of a company’s balance sheet. If you’re interestedwe have a graphic representation of Excelpoint Technology’s balance sheet.
After our examination into the nature of Excelpoint Technology’s profit, we’ve come away optimistic for the company. 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. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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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