Many investors consider it preferable to invest in profitable companies over unprofitable ones, because profitability suggests a business is sustainable. 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. This article will consider whether GSW Immobilien's (FRA:GIB) statutory profits are a good guide to its underlying earnings.
While GSW Immobilien was able to generate revenue of €386.1m in the last twelve months, we think its profit result of €402.0m was more important. The chart below shows how it has grown revenue over the last three years, but that profit has declined.
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. This article, will discuss how unusual items and a spike in non operating revenue have impacted GSW Immobilien's most recent results. Note: we always recommend investors check balance sheet strength. Click here to be taken to our balance sheet analysis of GSW Immobilien.
Operating Revenue Or Not?
Most companies divide classify their revenue as either 'operating revenue', which comes from normal operations, and other revenue, which could include government grants, for example. Generally speaking, operating revenue is a more reliable guide to the sustainable revenue generating capacity of the business. However, we note that when non-operating revenue increases suddenly, it will sometimes generate an unsustainable boost to profit. It's worth noting that GSW Immobilien saw a big increase in non-operating revenue over the last year. Indeed, its non-operating revenue rose from €58.4m last year to €119.5m this year. If that non-operating revenue fails to manifest in the current year, then there's a real risk the bottom line profit result will be impacted negatively. Sometimes, you can get a better idea of the underlying earnings potential of a company by excluding unusual boosts to non-operating revenue.
The Impact Of Unusual Items On Profit
Alongside that spike in non-operating revenue, it's also important to note that GSW Immobilien'sprofit was boosted by unusual items worth €375m in the last twelve months. While it's always nice to have higher profit, a large contribution from unusual items sometimes dampens our enthusiasm. We ran the numbers on most publicly listed companies worldwide, and it's very common for unusual items to be once-off in nature. And that's as you'd expect, given these boosts are described as 'unusual'. We can see that GSW Immobilien's positive unusual items were quite significant relative to its profit in the year to June 2020. All else being equal, this would likely have the effect of making the statutory profit a poor guide to underlying earnings power.
Our Take On GSW Immobilien's Profit Performance
In its last report GSW Immobilien benefitted from a spike in non-operating revenue which may have boosted its profit in a way that may be no more sustainable than low quality coal mining. And on top of that, it also saw an unusual item boost its profit, suggesting that next year might see a lower profit number, if these events are not repeated and everything else is equal. For all the reasons mentioned above, we think that, at a glance, GSW Immobilien's statutory profits could be considered to be low quality, because they are likely to give investors an overly positive impression of the company. With this in mind, we wouldn't consider investing in a stock unless we had a thorough understanding of the risks. When we did our research, we found 5 warning signs for GSW Immobilien (2 can't be ignored!) that we believe deserve your full attention.
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. 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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