Enerplus Corporation (TSE:ERF) just reported healthy earnings but the stock price didn't move much. We think that investors have missed some encouraging factors underlying the profit figures.
A Closer Look At Enerplus' 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.
As a result, a negative accrual ratio is a positive for the company, and a positive accrual ratio is a negative. 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. 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 March 2022, Enerplus had an accrual ratio of -0.17. Therefore, its statutory earnings were very significantly less than its free cashflow. In fact, it had free cash flow of US$457m in the last year, which was a lot more than its statutory profit of US$257.3m. Enerplus shareholders are no doubt pleased that free cash flow improved over the last twelve months.
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 Enerplus' Profit Performance
Happily for shareholders, Enerplus produced plenty of free cash flow to back up its statutory profit numbers. Based on this observation, we consider it possible that Enerplus' statutory profit actually understates its earnings potential! And it's also positive that the company showed enough improvement to book a profit this year, after losing money last year. Of course, we've only just scratched the surface when it comes to analysing its earnings; one could also consider margins, forecast growth, and return on investment, among other factors. If you want to do dive deeper into Enerplus, you'd also look into what risks it is currently facing. You'd be interested to know, that we found 1 warning sign for Enerplus and you'll want to know about it.
This note has only looked at a single factor that sheds light on the nature of Enerplus' 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. 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.