Broadly speaking, profitable businesses are less risky than unprofitable ones. Having said that, sometimes statutory profit levels are not a good guide to ongoing profitability, because some short term one-off factor has impacted profit levels. In this article, we'll look at how useful this year's statutory profit is, when analysing Morgan Advanced Materials (LON:MGAM).
We like the fact that Morgan Advanced Materials made a profit of UK£8.10m on its revenue of UK£1.00b, in the last year. Below, you can see that both its revenue and its profit have fallen over the last three years.
Importantly, statutory profits are not always the best tool for understanding a company's true earnings power, so it's well worth examining profits in a little more detail. As a result, today we're going to take a closer look at Morgan Advanced Materials' cashflow, and unusual items, with a view to understanding what these might tell us about its statutory profit. 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.
A Closer Look At Morgan Advanced Materials' Earnings
One key financial ratio used to measure how well a company converts its profit to free cash flow (FCF) is the accrual ratio. 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. This ratio tells us how much of a company's profit is not backed by free cashflow.
Therefore, it's actually considered a good thing when a company has a negative accrual ratio, but a bad thing if its accrual ratio is positive. That is not intended to imply we should worry about a positive accrual ratio, but it's worth noting where the accrual ratio is rather high. 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 June 2020, Morgan Advanced Materials had an accrual ratio of -0.17. That indicates that its free cash flow quite significantly exceeded its statutory profit. To wit, it produced free cash flow of UK£86m during the period, dwarfing its reported profit of UK£8.10m. Morgan Advanced Materials shareholders are no doubt pleased that free cash flow improved over the last twelve months. Having said that, there is more to the story. We can see that unusual items have impacted its statutory profit, and therefore the accrual ratio.
How Do Unusual Items Influence Profit?
Morgan Advanced Materials' profit was reduced by unusual items worth UK£69m in the last twelve months, and this helped it produce high cash conversion, as reflected by its unusual items. In a scenario where those unusual items included non-cash charges, we'd expect to see a strong accrual ratio, which is exactly what has happened in this case. It's never great to see unusual items costing the company profits, but on the upside, things might improve sooner rather than later. When we analysed the vast majority of listed companies worldwide, we found that significant unusual items are often not repeated. And, after all, that's exactly what the accounting terminology implies. In the twelve months to June 2020, Morgan Advanced Materials had a big unusual items expense. As a result, we can surmise that the unusual items made its statutory profit significantly weaker than it would otherwise be.
Our Take On Morgan Advanced Materials' Profit Performance
Considering both Morgan Advanced Materials' accrual ratio and its unusual items, we think its statutory earnings are unlikely to exaggerate the company's underlying earnings power. Based on these factors, we think Morgan Advanced Materials' underlying earnings potential is as good as, or probably even better, than the statutory profit makes it seem! With this in mind, we wouldn't consider investing in a stock unless we had a thorough understanding of the risks. You'd be interested to know, that we found 4 warning signs for Morgan Advanced Materials and you'll want to know about them.
Our examination of Morgan Advanced Materials has focussed on certain factors that can make its earnings look better than they are. And it has passed with flying colours. But there are plenty of other ways to inform your opinion of a company. 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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