CPT Global's (ASX:CGO) Earnings Aren't As Good As They Appear

By
Simply Wall St
Published
August 31, 2021
ASX:CGO
Source: Shutterstock

CPT Global Limited's (ASX:CGO) stock rose after it released a robust earnings report. However, we think that shareholders should be aware of some other factors beyond the profit numbers.

See our latest analysis for CPT Global

earnings-and-revenue-history
ASX:CGO Earnings and Revenue History August 31st 2021

A Closer Look At CPT Global's Earnings

As finance nerds would already know, the accrual ratio from cashflow is a key measure for assessing how well a company's free cash flow (FCF) matches its profit. 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'.

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 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".

For the year to June 2021, CPT Global had an accrual ratio of 4.58. That means it didn't generate anywhere near enough free cash flow to match its profit. Statistically speaking, that's a real negative for future earnings. In fact, it had free cash flow of AU$2.6m in the last year, which was a lot less than its statutory profit of AU$3.41m. We note, however, that CPT Global grew its free cash flow over the last year. Unfortunately for shareholders, the company has also been issuing new shares, diluting their share of future earnings. One positive for CPT Global 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. As a result, some shareholders may be looking for stronger cash conversion in the current year.

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

One essential aspect of assessing earnings quality is to look at how much a company is diluting shareholders. As it happens, CPT Global issued 5.3% more new shares over the last year. That means its earnings are split among a greater number of shares. 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. You can see a chart of CPT Global's EPS by clicking here.

A Look At The Impact Of CPT Global's Dilution on Its Earnings Per Share (EPS).

We don't have any data on the company's profits from 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. And so, you can see quite clearly that dilution is influencing shareholder earnings.

If CPT Global's EPS can grow over time then that drastically improves the chances of the share price moving in the same direction. But on the other hand, we'd be far less excited to learn profit (but not EPS) was improving. For the ordinary retail shareholder, EPS is a great measure to check your hypothetical "share" of the company's profit.

Our Take On CPT Global's Profit Performance

In conclusion, CPT Global has weak cashflow relative to earnings, which indicates lower quality earnings, and the dilution means that shareholders now own a smaller proportion of the company (assuming they maintained the same number of shares). For the reasons mentioned above, we think that a perfunctory glance at CPT Global's statutory profits might make it look better than it really is on an underlying level. If you want to do dive deeper into CPT Global, you'd also look into what risks it is currently facing. To that end, you should learn about the 5 warning signs we've spotted with CPT Global (including 1 which is potentially serious).

Our examination of CPT Global 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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