Stock Analysis

Are Mayfield Childcare's (ASX:MFD) Statutory Earnings A Good Guide To Its Underlying Profitability?

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ASX:MFD
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Many investors consider it preferable to invest in profitable companies over unprofitable ones, because profitability suggests a business is sustainable. That said, the current statutory profit is not always a good guide to a company's underlying profitability. Today we'll focus on whether this year's statutory profits are a good guide to understanding Mayfield Childcare (ASX:MFD).

It's good to see that over the last twelve months Mayfield Childcare made a profit of AU$2.96m on revenue of AU$36.5m. In the chart below, you can see that its profit and revenue have both grown over the last three years, although its profit has slipped in the last twelve months.

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ASX:MFD Earnings and Revenue History December 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. So today we'll look at what Mayfield Childcare's cashflow tells us about the quality of its 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.

A Closer Look At Mayfield Childcare'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. You could think of the accrual ratio from cashflow as the 'non-FCF profit ratio'.

As a result, a negative accrual ratio is a positive for the company, and a positive accrual ratio is a negative. 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. That's because some academic studies have suggested that high accruals ratios tend to lead to lower profit or less profit growth.

Over the twelve months to June 2020, Mayfield Childcare recorded an accrual ratio of -0.12. That indicates that its free cash flow was a fair bit more than its statutory profit. In fact, it had free cash flow of AU$7.8m in the last year, which was a lot more than its statutory profit of AU$2.96m. Mayfield Childcare shareholders are no doubt pleased that free cash flow improved over the last twelve months.

Our Take On Mayfield Childcare's Profit Performance

As we discussed above, Mayfield Childcare has perfectly satisfactory free cash flow relative to profit. Because of this, we think Mayfield Childcare's earnings potential is at least as good as it seems, and maybe even better! And on top of that, its earnings per share have grown at an extremely impressive rate over the last three years. 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. In light of this, if you'd like to do more analysis on the company, it's vital to be informed of the risks involved. For example - Mayfield Childcare has 4 warning signs we think you should be aware of.

Today we've zoomed in on a single data point to better understand the nature of Mayfield Childcare'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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