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. In this article, we’ll look at how useful this year’s statutory profit is, when analysing Fu Yu (SGX:F13).
While Fu Yu was able to generate revenue of S$194.1m in the last twelve months, we think its profit result of S$12.7m was more important. Even though its revenue is down over the last three years, its profit has actually increased, as you can see, below.
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. As a result, today we’re going to take a closer look at Fu Yu’s cashflow, and unusual items, with a view to understanding what these might tell us about its statutory profit. 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.
Examining Cashflow Against Fu Yu’s Earnings
In high finance, the key ratio used to measure how well a company converts reported profits into free cash flow (FCF) is the accrual ratio (from cashflow). 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. The ratio shows us how much a company’s profit exceeds its FCF.
Therefore, it’s actually considered a good thing when a company has a negative accrual ratio, but a bad thing if its accrual ratio is positive. While it’s not a problem to have a positive accrual ratio, indicating a certain level of non-cash profits, a high accrual ratio is arguably a bad thing, because it indicates paper profits are not matched by cash flow. 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 December 2019, Fu Yu had an accrual ratio of -0.10. That indicates that its free cash flow was a fair bit more than its statutory profit. Indeed, in the last twelve months it reported free cash flow of S$20m, well over the S$12.7m it reported in profit. Fu Yu’s free cash flow improved over the last year, which is generally good to see. 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
Fu Yu’s profit was reduced by unusual items worth S$5.5m 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. It’s never great to see unusual items costing the company profits, but on the upside, things might improve sooner rather than later. We looked at thousands of listed companies and found that unusual items are very often one-off in nature. 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 Fu Yu to produce a higher profit next year, all else being equal.
Our Take On Fu Yu’s Profit Performance
In conclusion, both Fu Yu’s accrual ratio and its unusual items suggest that its statutory earnings are probably reasonably conservative. Looking at all these factors, we’d say that Fu Yu’s underlying earnings power is at least as good as the statutory numbers would make it seem. So if you’d like to dive deeper into this stock, it’s crucial to consider any risks it’s facing. For example – Fu Yu has 2 warning signs we think you should be aware of.
Our examination of Fu Yu has focussed on certain factors that can make its earnings look better than they are. And it has passed with flying colours. 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. 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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