Here's Why We Don't Think HIVE Blockchain Technologies's (CVE:HIVE) Statutory Earnings Reflect Its Underlying Earnings Potential

By
Simply Wall St
Published
January 20, 2021
TSXV:HIVE

Statistically speaking, it is less risky to invest in profitable companies than in unprofitable ones. However, sometimes companies receive a one-off boost (or reduction) to their profit, and it's not always clear whether statutory profits are a good guide, going forward. Today we'll focus on whether this year's statutory profits are a good guide to understanding HIVE Blockchain Technologies (CVE:HIVE).

We like the fact that HIVE Blockchain Technologies made a profit of US$15.3m on its revenue of US$27.7m, in the last year. The chart below shows that revenue has improved over the last three years, and, even better, the company has moved from unprofitable to profitable.

View our latest analysis for HIVE Blockchain Technologies

earnings-and-revenue-history
TSXV:HIVE Earnings and Revenue History January 20th 2021

Not all profits are equal, and we can learn more about the nature of a company's past profitability by diving deeper into the financial statements. So today we'll look at what HIVE Blockchain Technologies' cashflow tells us about its earnings, as well as examining how issuing shares is impacting shareholder value. Note: we always recommend investors check balance sheet strength. Click here to be taken to our balance sheet analysis of HIVE Blockchain Technologies.

A Closer Look At HIVE Blockchain Technologies' 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. You could think of the accrual ratio from cashflow as the 'non-FCF profit ratio'.

That means a negative accrual ratio is a good thing, because it shows that the company is bringing in more free cash flow than its profit would suggest. 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".

Over the twelve months to September 2020, HIVE Blockchain Technologies recorded an accrual ratio of 0.58. Ergo, its free cash flow is significantly weaker than its profit. As a general rule, that bodes poorly for future profitability. In fact, it had free cash flow of US$2.6m in the last year, which was a lot less than its statutory profit of US$15.3m. Given that HIVE Blockchain Technologies had negative free cash flow in the prior corresponding period, the trailing twelve month resul of US$2.6m would seem to be a step in the right direction. Notably, the company has issued new shares, thus diluting existing shareholders and reducing their share of future earnings. The good news for shareholders is that HIVE Blockchain Technologies' 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. Shareholders should look for improved cashflow relative to profit in the current year, if that is indeed the case.

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, HIVE Blockchain Technologies issued 6.0% 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. You can see a chart of HIVE Blockchain Technologies' EPS by clicking here.

A Look At The Impact Of HIVE Blockchain Technologies' Dilution on Its Earnings Per Share (EPS).

Three years ago, HIVE Blockchain Technologies 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). So you can see that the dilution has had a bit of an impact on shareholders. Therefore, the dilution is having a noteworthy influence on shareholder returns. And so, you can see quite clearly that dilution is influencing shareholder earnings.

If HIVE Blockchain Technologies' 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 the ordinary retail shareholder, EPS is a great measure to check your hypothetical "share" of the company's profit.

Our Take On HIVE Blockchain Technologies' Profit Performance

As it turns out, HIVE Blockchain Technologies couldn't match its profit with cashflow and its dilution means that shareholders own less of the company than the did before (unless they bought more shares). For the reasons mentioned above, we think that a perfunctory glance at HIVE Blockchain Technologies' statutory profits might make it look better than it really is on an underlying level. If you'd like to know more about HIVE Blockchain Technologies as a business, it's important to be aware of any risks it's facing. When we did our research, we found 3 warning signs for HIVE Blockchain Technologies (1 is potentially serious!) that we believe deserve your full attention.

Our examination of HIVE Blockchain Technologies 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 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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This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. 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.
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