We’re Not So Sure You Should Rely on Origin Energy’s (ASX:ORG) Statutory Earnings

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. Today we’ll focus on whether this year’s statutory profits are a good guide to understanding Origin Energy (ASX:ORG).

It’s good to see that over the last twelve months Origin Energy made a profit of AU$1.01b on revenue of AU$13.8b. The good news is that the company managed to grow its revenue over the last three years, and also move from loss-making to profitable.

Check out our latest analysis for Origin Energy

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ASX:ORG Earnings and Revenue History August 3rd 2020

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. This article will focus on the impact unusual items have had on Origin 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.

The Impact Of Unusual Items On Profit

Importantly, our data indicates that Origin Energy’s profit received a boost of AU$371m in unusual items, over the last year. We can’t deny that higher profits generally leave us optimistic, but we’d prefer it if the profit were to be sustainable. 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. Origin Energy had a rather significant contribution from unusual items relative to its profit to December 2019. All else being equal, this would likely have the effect of making the statutory profit a poor guide to underlying earnings power.

Our Take On Origin Energy’s Profit Performance

As previously mentioned, Origin 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. For this reason, we think that Origin Energy’s statutory profits may be a bad guide to its underlying earnings power, and might give investors an overly positive impression of the company. In further bad news, its earnings per share decreased in the last year. The goal of this article has been to assess how well we can rely on the statutory earnings to reflect the company’s potential, but there is plenty more to consider. So while earnings quality is important, it’s equally important to consider the risks facing Origin Energy at this point in time. To help with this, we’ve discovered 3 warning signs (1 doesn’t sit too well with us!) that you ought to be aware of before buying any shares in Origin Energy.

This note has only looked at a single factor that sheds light on the nature of Origin Energy’s profit. 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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