Stock Analysis

Are Fertilizantes Heringer's (BVMF:FHER3) Statutory Earnings A Good Guide To Its Underlying Profitability?

  •  Updated
BOVESPA:FHER3
Source: Shutterstock

As a general rule, we think profitable companies are less risky than companies that lose money. However, sometimes companies receive a one-off boost (or reduction) to their profit, and it's not always clear whether statutory profits are a good guide, going forward. This article will consider whether Fertilizantes Heringer's (BVMF:FHER3) statutory profits are a good guide to its underlying earnings.

It's good to see that over the last twelve months Fertilizantes Heringer made a profit of R$654.4m on revenue of R$1.88b. The chart below shows that while revenue has fallen over the last three years, the company has moved from unprofitable to profitable.

View our latest analysis for Fertilizantes Heringer

earnings-and-revenue-history
BOVESPA:FHER3 Earnings and Revenue History January 11th 2021

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. As a result, today we're going to take a closer look at Fertilizantes Heringer's cashflow, and unusual items, with a view to understanding what these might tell us about its statutory profit. Note: we always recommend investors check balance sheet strength. Click here to be taken to our balance sheet analysis of Fertilizantes Heringer.

Zooming In On Fertilizantes Heringer's Earnings

In high finance, the key ratio used to measure how well a company converts reported profits into free cash flow (FCF) is the accrual ratio (from cashflow). 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. The ratio shows us how much a company's profit exceeds its FCF.

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 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. Notably, there is some academic evidence that suggests that a high accrual ratio is a bad sign for near-term profits, generally speaking.

For the year to September 2020, Fertilizantes Heringer had an accrual ratio of 1.59. As a general rule, that bodes poorly for future profitability. And indeed, during the period the company didn't produce any free cash flow whatsoever. Even though it reported a profit of R$654.4m, a look at free cash flow indicates it actually burnt through R$100m in the last year. We also note that Fertilizantes Heringer's free cash flow was actually negative last year as well, so we could understand if shareholders were bothered by its outflow of R$100m. Having said that, there is more to the story. The accrual ratio is reflecting the impact of unusual items on statutory profit, at least in part. The good news for shareholders is that Fertilizantes Heringer's accrual ratio was much better last year, so this year's poor reading might simply be a case of a short term mismatch between profit and FCF. Shareholders should look for improved cashflow relative to profit in the current year, if that is indeed the case.

The Impact Of Unusual Items On Profit

Fertilizantes Heringer's profit suffered from unusual items, which reduced profit by R$57m in the last twelve months. In the case where this was a non-cash charge it would have made it easier to have high cash conversion, so it's surprising that the accrual ratio tells a different story. 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. Fertilizantes Heringer took a rather significant hit from unusual items in the year to September 2020. As a result, we can surmise that the unusual items made its statutory profit significantly weaker than it would otherwise be.

Our Take On Fertilizantes Heringer's Profit Performance

Fertilizantes Heringer saw unusual items weigh on its profit, which should have made it easier to show high cash conversion, which it did not do, according to its accrual ratio. Based on these factors, it's hard to tell if Fertilizantes Heringer's profits are a reasonable reflection of its underlying profitability. 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. Every company has risks, and we've spotted 4 warning signs for Fertilizantes Heringer (of which 2 are concerning!) you should know about.

In this article we've looked at a number of factors that can impair the utility of profit numbers, as a guide to a business. 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. 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.

If you’re looking to trade Fertilizantes Heringer, open an account with the lowest-cost* platform trusted by professionals, Interactive Brokers. Their clients from over 200 countries and territories trade stocks, options, futures, forex, bonds and funds worldwide from a single integrated account. Promoted


Valuation is complex, but we're helping make it simple.

Find out whether Fertilizantes Heringer is potentially over or undervalued by checking out our comprehensive analysis, which includes fair value estimates, risks and warnings, dividends, insider transactions and financial health.

View the Free Analysis