SILK Laser Australia Limited (ASX:SLA) just reported healthy earnings but the stock price didn't move much. Investors are probably missing some underlying factors which are encouraging for the future of the company.
Examining Cashflow Against SILK Laser Australia'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. 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. This ratio tells us how much of a company's profit is not backed by free cashflow.
That means a negative accrual ratio is a good thing, because it shows that the company is bringing in more free cash flow than its profit would suggest. 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. To quote a 2014 paper by Lewellen and Resutek, "firms with higher accruals tend to be less profitable in the future".
Over the twelve months to June 2021, SILK Laser Australia recorded an accrual ratio of -0.57. Therefore, its statutory earnings were very significantly less than its free cashflow. Indeed, in the last twelve months it reported free cash flow of AU$24m, well over the AU$5.15m it reported in profit. SILK Laser Australia shareholders are no doubt pleased that free cash flow improved over the last twelve months. However, that's not all there is to consider. The accrual ratio is reflecting the impact of unusual items on statutory profit, at least in part.
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?
SILK Laser Australia's profit was reduced by unusual items worth AU$1.4m in the last twelve months, and this helped it produce high cash conversion, as reflected by its unusual items. In a scenario where those unusual items included non-cash charges, we'd expect to see a strong accrual ratio, which is exactly what has happened in this case. While deductions due to unusual items are disappointing in the first instance, there is a silver lining. 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 SILK Laser Australia to produce a higher profit next year, all else being equal.
Our Take On SILK Laser Australia's Profit Performance
In conclusion, both SILK Laser Australia's accrual ratio and its unusual items suggest that its statutory earnings are probably reasonably conservative. Based on these factors, we think SILK Laser Australia's underlying earnings potential is as good as, or probably even better, than the statutory profit makes it seem! 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. While conducting our analysis, we found that SILK Laser Australia has 1 warning sign and it would be unwise to ignore it.
After our examination into the nature of SILK Laser Australia's profit, we've come away optimistic for the company. 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. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. 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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