We Wouldn’t Rely On WPX Energy’s (NYSE:WPX) Statutory Earnings As A Guide

Many investors consider it preferable to invest in profitable companies over unprofitable ones, because profitability suggests a business is sustainable. 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 WPX Energy‘s (NYSE:WPX) statutory profits are a good guide to its underlying earnings.

While WPX Energy was able to generate revenue of US$2.38b in the last twelve months, we think its profit result of US$732.0m 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 WPX Energy

NYSE:WPX Income Statement, January 16th 2020
NYSE:WPX Income Statement, January 16th 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 focus on the impact unusual items have had on WPX Energy’s statutory 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.

How Do Unusual Items Influence Profit?

For anyone who wants to understand WPX Energy’s profit beyond the statutory numbers, it’s important to note that during the last twelve months statutory profit gained from US$316m worth of unusual items. While it’s always nice to have higher profit, a large contribution from unusual items sometimes dampens our enthusiasm. We ran the numbers on most publicly listed companies worldwide, and it’s very common for unusual items to be once-off in nature. And, after all, that’s exactly what the accounting terminology implies. WPX Energy had a rather significant contribution from unusual items relative to its profit to September 2019. As a result, we can surmise that the unusual items are making its statutory profit significantly stronger than it would otherwise be.

Our Take On WPX Energy’s Profit Performance

As previously mentioned, WPX Energy’s large boost from unusual items won’t be there indefinitely, so its statutory earnings are probably a poor guide to its underlying profitability. As a result, we think it may well be the case that WPX Energy’s underlying earnings power is lower than its statutory profit. On the bright side, the company showed enough improvement to book a profit this year, after losing money last year. Of course, we’ve only just scratched the surface when it comes to analysing its earnings; one could also consider margins, forecast growth, and return on investment, among other factors. While it’s really important to consider how well a company’s statutory earnings represent its true earnings power, it’s also worth taking a look at what analysts are forecasting for the future. So feel free to check out our free graph representing analyst forecasts.

Today we’ve zoomed in on a single data point to better understand the nature of WPX Energy’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. 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 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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