Stock Analysis

Draganfly's (CSE:DPRO) Earnings Are Of Questionable Quality

CNSX:DPRO
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Investors were disappointed with Draganfly Inc.'s (CSE:DPRO) earnings, despite the strong profit numbers. Our analysis uncovered some concerning factors that we believe the market might be paying attention to.

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earnings-and-revenue-history
CNSX:DPRO Earnings and Revenue History November 16th 2022

A Closer Look At Draganfly'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. In plain english, this ratio subtracts FCF from net profit, and divides that number by the company's average operating assets over that period. This ratio tells us how much of a company's profit is not backed by free cashflow.

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. That is not intended to imply we should worry about a positive accrual ratio, but it's worth noting where the accrual ratio is rather high. 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 September 2022, Draganfly recorded an accrual ratio of 1.35. Statistically speaking, that's a real negative for future earnings. To wit, the company did not generate one whit of free cashflow in that time. Over the last year it actually had negative free cash flow of CA$17m, in contrast to the aforementioned profit of CA$1.78m. We also note that Draganfly's free cash flow was actually negative last year as well, so we could understand if shareholders were bothered by its outflow of CA$17m. Having said that, there is more to consider. We can look at how unusual items in the profit and loss statement impacted its accrual ratio, as well as explore how dilution is impacting shareholders negatively. The good news for shareholders is that Draganfly'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. As a result, some shareholders may be looking for stronger cash conversion in the current year.

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.

One essential aspect of assessing earnings quality is to look at how much a company is diluting shareholders. Draganfly expanded the number of shares on issue by 5.1% 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. Check out Draganfly's historical EPS growth by clicking on this link.

How Is Dilution Impacting Draganfly's Earnings Per Share (EPS)?

Draganfly 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. And so, you can see quite clearly that dilution is influencing shareholder earnings.

If Draganfly's EPS can grow over time then that drastically improves the chances of the share price moving in the same direction. 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.

How Do Unusual Items Influence Profit?

Draganfly's profit suffered from unusual items, which reduced profit by CA$4.3m 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. If Draganfly 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 Draganfly's Profit Performance

In conclusion, Draganfly's accrual ratio suggests that its statutory earnings are not backed by cash flow; but the fact unusual items actually weighed on profit may create upside if those unusual items to not recur. And the dilution means that per-share results are weaker than the bottom line might imply. Based on these factors, we think that Draganfly's statutory profits probably make it seem better than it is on an underlying level. If you want to do dive deeper into Draganfly, you'd also look into what risks it is currently facing. To help with this, we've discovered 5 warning signs (2 shouldn't be ignored!) that you ought to be aware of before buying any shares in Draganfly.

In this article we've looked at a number of factors that can impair the utility of profit numbers, and we've come away cautious. But there is always more to discover if you are capable of focussing your mind on minutiae. 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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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.