We Think That There Are Some Issues For Navarre Minerals (ASX:NML) Beyond Its Promising Earnings

By
Simply Wall St
Published
March 22, 2022
ASX:NML
Source: Shutterstock

Navarre Minerals Limited's (ASX:NML) robust recent earnings didn't do much to move the stock. We believe that shareholders have noticed some concerning factors beyond the statutory profit numbers.

View our latest analysis for Navarre Minerals

earnings-and-revenue-history
ASX:NML Earnings and Revenue History March 22nd 2022

Zooming In On Navarre Minerals' Earnings

One key financial ratio used to measure how well a company converts its profit to free cash flow (FCF) is the accrual ratio. 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. 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. 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 December 2021, Navarre Minerals had an accrual ratio of 0.29. Therefore, we know that it's free cashflow was significantly lower than its statutory profit, raising questions about how useful that profit figure really is. Over the last year it actually had negative free cash flow of AU$10m, in contrast to the aforementioned profit of AU$3.84m. We also note that Navarre Minerals' free cash flow was actually negative last year as well, so we could understand if shareholders were bothered by its outflow of AU$10m. Having said that, there is more to consider. We must also consider the impact of unusual items on statutory profit (and thus the accrual ratio), as well as note the ramifications of the company issuing new shares.

Note: we always recommend investors check balance sheet strength. Click here to be taken to our balance sheet analysis of Navarre Minerals.

To understand the value of a company's earnings growth, it is imperative to consider any dilution of shareholders' interests. In fact, Navarre Minerals increased the number of shares on issue by 150% over the last twelve months by issuing new shares. Therefore, each share now receives a smaller portion of profit. Per share metrics like EPS help us understand how much actual shareholders are benefitting from the company's profits, while the net income level gives us a better view of the company's absolute size. Check out Navarre Minerals' historical EPS growth by clicking on this link.

How Is Dilution Impacting Navarre Minerals' Earnings Per Share? (EPS)

Navarre Minerals was losing money three years ago. And even focusing only on the last twelve months, we don't have a meaningful growth rate because it made a loss a year ago, too. What we do know is that while it's great to see a profit over the last twelve months, that profit would have been better, on a per share basis, if the company hadn't needed to issue shares. So you can see that the dilution has had a fairly significant impact on shareholders.

In the long term, if Navarre Minerals' earnings per share can increase, then the share price should too. However, if its profit increases while its earnings per share stay flat (or even fall) then shareholders might not see much benefit. For that reason, you could say that EPS is more important that net income in the long run, assuming the goal is to assess whether a company's share price might grow.

The Impact Of Unusual Items On Profit

Unfortunately (in the short term) Navarre Minerals saw its profit reduced by unusual items worth AU$1.7m. If this was a non-cash charge, it would have made the accrual ratio better, if cashflow had stayed strong, so it's not great to see in combination with an uninspiring accrual ratio. It's never great to see unusual items costing the company profits, but on the upside, things might improve sooner rather than later. 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. If Navarre Minerals doesn't see those unusual expenses repeat, then all else being equal we'd expect its profit to increase over the coming year.

Our Take On Navarre Minerals' Profit Performance

Summing up, Navarre Minerals' unusual items suggest that its statutory earnings were temporarily depressed, and its accrual ratio indicates a lack of free cash flow relative to profit. And the dilution means that per-share results are weaker than the bottom line might imply. For the reasons mentioned above, we think that a perfunctory glance at Navarre Minerals' statutory profits might make it look better than it really is on an underlying level. If you'd like to know more about Navarre Minerals as a business, it's important to be aware of any risks it's facing. To help with this, we've discovered 4 warning signs (2 are a bit unpleasant!) that you ought to be aware of before buying any shares in Navarre Minerals.

Our examination of Navarre Minerals 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. 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. 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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