Investors Shouldn't Be Too Comfortable With Multilaser Industrial's (BVMF:MLAS3) Robust Earnings

Simply Wall St
November 18, 2021
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Despite posting some strong earnings, the market for Multilaser Industrial S.A.'s (BVMF:MLAS3) stock hasn't moved much. We did some digging, and we found some concerning factors in the details.

View our latest analysis for Multilaser Industrial

BOVESPA:MLAS3 Earnings and Revenue History November 19th 2021

Zooming In On Multilaser Industrial'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. The ratio shows us how much a company's profit exceeds its FCF.

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 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".

Multilaser Industrial has an accrual ratio of 0.75 for the year to September 2021. As a general rule, that bodes poorly for future profitability. To wit, the company did not generate one whit of free cashflow in that time. Even though it reported a profit of R$794.5m, a look at free cash flow indicates it actually burnt through R$1.1b in the last year. We also note that Multilaser Industrial's free cash flow was actually negative last year as well, so we could understand if shareholders were bothered by its outflow of R$1.1b.

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.

Our Take On Multilaser Industrial's Profit Performance

As we have made quite clear, we're a bit worried that Multilaser Industrial didn't back up the last year's profit with free cashflow. For this reason, we think that Multilaser Industrial's statutory profits may be a bad guide to its underlying earnings power, and might give investors an overly positive impression of the company. But the good news is that its EPS growth over the last three years has been very impressive. At the end of the day, it's essential to consider more than just the factors above, if you want to understand the company properly. With this in mind, we wouldn't consider investing in a stock unless we had a thorough understanding of the risks. Our analysis shows 2 warning signs for Multilaser Industrial (1 is a bit unpleasant!) and we strongly recommend you look at these bad boys before investing.

This note has only looked at a single factor that sheds light on the nature of Multilaser Industrial's profit. 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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