Stock Analysis

Rubellite Energy's (TSE:RBY) Robust Profit May Be Overstating Its True Earnings Potential

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Solid profit numbers didn't seem to be enough to please Rubellite Energy Inc.'s (TSE:RBY) shareholders. Our analysis suggests they may be concerned about some underlying details.

See our latest analysis for Rubellite Energy

TSX:RBY Earnings and Revenue History March 16th 2023

A Closer Look At Rubellite Energy'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). 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.

As a result, a negative accrual ratio is a positive for the company, and a positive accrual ratio is a negative. 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. That's because some academic studies have suggested that high accruals ratios tend to lead to lower profit or less profit growth.

Over the twelve months to December 2022, Rubellite Energy recorded an accrual ratio of 0.76. 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. Even though it reported a profit of CA$24.6m, a look at free cash flow indicates it actually burnt through CA$70m in the last year. Coming off the back of negative free cash flow last year, we imagine some shareholders might wonder if its cash burn of CA$70m, this year, indicates high risk. Unfortunately for shareholders, the company has also been issuing new shares, diluting their share of future earnings.

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.

To understand the value of a company's earnings growth, it is imperative to consider any dilution of shareholders' interests. Rubellite Energy expanded the number of shares on issue by 25% over the last year. That means its earnings are split among 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 Rubellite Energy's historical EPS growth by clicking on this link.

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

Unfortunately, we don't have any visibility into its profits three years back, because we lack the data. The good news is that profit was up 6.5% in the last twelve months. But earnings per share are actually down 54%, over that same period. This is a great example of why it's rather imprudent to rely only on net income as a growth measure. Therefore, one can observe that the dilution is having a fairly profound effect on shareholder returns.

If Rubellite Energy'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.

Our Take On Rubellite Energy's Profit Performance

In conclusion, Rubellite Energy has weak cashflow relative to earnings, which indicates lower quality earnings, and the dilution means that shareholders now own a smaller proportion of the company (assuming they maintained the same number of shares). Considering all this we'd argue Rubellite Energy's profits probably give an overly generous impression of its sustainable level of profitability. So if you'd like to dive deeper into this stock, it's crucial to consider any risks it's facing. For instance, we've identified 5 warning signs for Rubellite Energy (1 is potentially serious) you should be familiar with.

Our examination of Rubellite Energy has focussed on certain factors that can make its earnings look better than they are. And, on that basis, we are somewhat skeptical. 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. 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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