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 Freelance.com (EPA:ALFRE).
We like the fact that Freelance.com made a profit of €4.84m on its revenue of €258.2m, in the last year. Happily, it has grown both its profit and revenue over the last three years (though we note its profit is down over the last year).
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. Today, we'll discuss Freelance.com's free cashflow relative to its earnings, and consider what that tells us about the company. 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.
Examining Cashflow Against Freelance.com'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. In plain english, this ratio subtracts FCF from net profit, and divides that number by the company's average operating assets over that period. The ratio shows us how much a company's profit exceeds its FCF.
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 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. To quote a 2014 paper by Lewellen and Resutek, "firms with higher accruals tend to be less profitable in the future".
For the year to June 2020, Freelance.com had an accrual ratio of -0.29. That indicates that its free cash flow quite significantly exceeded its statutory profit. To wit, it produced free cash flow of €13m during the period, dwarfing its reported profit of €4.84m. Freelance.com's free cash flow improved over the last year, which is generally good to see.
Our Take On Freelance.com's Profit Performance
As we discussed above, Freelance.com's accrual ratio indicates strong conversion of profit to free cash flow, which is a positive for the company. Because of this, we think Freelance.com's underlying earnings potential is as good as, or possibly even better, than the statutory profit makes it seem! And on top of that, its earnings per share have grown at an extremely impressive rate over the last three years. At the end of the day, it's essential to consider more than just the factors above, if you want to understand the company properly. If you'd like to know more about Freelance.com as a business, it's important to be aware of any risks it's facing. At Simply Wall St, we found 2 warning signs for Freelance.com and we think they deserve your attention.
Today we've zoomed in on a single data point to better understand the nature of Freelance.com's profit. 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. 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. 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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