GenusPlus Group's (ASX:GNP) Robust Profit May Be Overstating Its True Earnings Potential

By
Simply Wall St
Published
September 05, 2021
ASX:GNP
Source: Shutterstock

Shareholders were pleased with the recent earnings report from GenusPlus Group Limited (ASX:GNP). Investors should be cautious however, as there some causes of concern deeper in the numbers.

Check out our latest analysis for GenusPlus Group

earnings-and-revenue-history
ASX:GNP Earnings and Revenue History September 5th 2021

Zooming In On GenusPlus Group's Earnings

Many investors haven't heard of the accrual ratio from cashflow, but it is actually a useful measure of how well a company's profit is backed up by free cash flow (FCF) during a given period. To get the accrual ratio we first subtract FCF from profit for a period, and then divide that number by the average operating assets for the period. This ratio tells us how much of a company's profit is not backed by free cashflow.

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 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".

For the year to June 2021, GenusPlus Group had an accrual ratio of 0.96. As a general rule, that bodes poorly for future profitability. To wit, the company did not generate one whit of free cashflow in that time. Over the last year it actually had negative free cash flow of AU$4.3m, in contrast to the aforementioned profit of AU$13.3m. We saw that FCF was AU$30m a year ago though, so GenusPlus Group has at least been able to generate positive FCF in the past. 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. One positive for GenusPlus Group shareholders is that it's accrual ratio was significantly better last year, providing reason to believe that it may return to stronger cash conversion in the future. Shareholders should look for improved cashflow relative to profit in the current year, if that is indeed the case.

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

The fact that the company had unusual items boosting profit by AU$2.8m, in the last year, probably goes some way to explain why its accrual ratio was so weak. While we like to see profit increases, we tend to be a little more cautious when unusual items have made a big contribution. 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 that's as you'd expect, given these boosts are described as 'unusual'. Assuming those unusual items don't show up again in the current year, we'd thus expect profit to be weaker next year (in the absence of business growth, that is).

Our Take On GenusPlus Group's Profit Performance

Summing up, GenusPlus Group received a nice boost to profit from unusual items, but could not match its paper profit with free cash flow. Considering all this we'd argue GenusPlus Group's profits probably give an overly generous impression of its sustainable level of profitability. So if you'd like to dive deeper into this stock, it's crucial to consider any risks it's facing. Every company has risks, and we've spotted 2 warning signs for GenusPlus Group (of which 1 makes us a bit uncomfortable!) you should know about.

Our examination of GenusPlus Group has focussed on certain factors that can make its earnings look better than they are. And, on that basis, we are somewhat skeptical. But there are plenty of other ways to inform your opinion of a company. Some people consider a high return on equity to be a good sign of a quality business. 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.

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