Stock Analysis

Shareholders Shouldn’t Be Too Comfortable With Zedcor's (CVE:ZDC) Strong Earnings

TSXV:ZDC
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Zedcor Inc.'s (CVE:ZDC) 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.

Our analysis indicates that ZDC is potentially overvalued!

earnings-and-revenue-history
TSXV:ZDC Earnings and Revenue History November 22nd 2022

Zooming In On Zedcor'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. 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. 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. 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. That's because some academic studies have suggested that high accruals ratios tend to lead to lower profit or less profit growth.

For the year to September 2022, Zedcor had an accrual ratio of 0.52. 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 CA$2.31m, a look at free cash flow indicates it actually burnt through CA$4.9m in the last year. We also note that Zedcor's free cash flow was actually negative last year as well, so we could understand if shareholders were bothered by its outflow of CA$4.9m. 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. One positive for Zedcor 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.

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.

In order to understand the potential for per share returns, it is essential to consider how much a company is diluting shareholders. As it happens, Zedcor issued 22% more new shares over the last year. As a result, its net income is now split between a greater number of shares. To celebrate net income while ignoring dilution is like rejoicing because you have a single slice of a larger pizza, but ignoring the fact that the pizza is now cut into many more slices. Check out Zedcor's historical EPS growth by clicking on this link.

A Look At The Impact Of Zedcor's Dilution On Its Earnings Per Share (EPS)

Three years ago, Zedcor lost money. 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. But mathematics aside, it is always good to see when a formerly unprofitable business come good (though we accept profit would have been higher if dilution had not been required). And so, you can see quite clearly that dilution is influencing shareholder earnings.

In the long term, if Zedcor's 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 the ordinary retail shareholder, EPS is a great measure to check your hypothetical "share" of the company's profit.

The Impact Of Unusual Items On Profit

The fact that the company had unusual items boosting profit by CA$362k, in the last year, probably goes some way to explain why its accrual ratio was so weak. While we like to see profit increases, we tend to be a little more cautious when unusual items have made a big contribution. We ran the numbers on most publicly listed companies worldwide, and it's very common for unusual items to be once-off in nature. Which is hardly surprising, given the name. Assuming those unusual items don't show up again in the current year, we'd thus expect profit to be weaker next year (in the absence of business growth, that is).

Our Take On Zedcor's Profit Performance

Zedcor didn't back up its earnings with free cashflow, but this isn't too surprising given profits were inflated by unusual items. Meanwhile, the new shares issued mean that shareholders now own less of the company, unless they tipped in more cash themselves. On reflection, the above-mentioned factors give us the strong impression that Zedcor'sunderlying earnings power is not as good as it might seem, based on the statutory profit numbers. If you want to do dive deeper into Zedcor, you'd also look into what risks it is currently facing. For example, Zedcor has 4 warning signs (and 2 which can't be ignored) we think you should know about.

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. 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.

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

Find out whether Zedcor 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.

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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.