Should You Rely On Games Workshop Group's (LON:GAW) Earnings Growth?

By
Simply Wall St
Published
January 20, 2021
LSE:GAW
Source: Shutterstock

As a general rule, we think profitable companies are less risky than companies that lose money. That said, the current statutory profit is not always a good guide to a company's underlying profitability. In this article, we'll look at how useful this year's statutory profit is, when analysing Games Workshop Group (LON:GAW).

While Games Workshop Group was able to generate revenue of UK£308.1m in the last twelve months, we think its profit result of UK£97.7m was more important. Happily, it has grown both its profit and revenue over the last three years, as you can see in the chart below.

See our latest analysis for Games Workshop Group

earnings-and-revenue-history
LSE:GAW Earnings and Revenue History January 21st 2021

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. Today, we'll discuss Games Workshop Group'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.

A Closer Look At Games Workshop Group's 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.

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 November 2020, Games Workshop Group had an accrual ratio of -0.31. Therefore, its statutory earnings were very significantly less than its free cashflow. To wit, it produced free cash flow of UK£124m during the period, dwarfing its reported profit of UK£97.7m. Games Workshop Group shareholders are no doubt pleased that free cash flow improved over the last twelve months.

Our Take On Games Workshop Group's Profit Performance

As we discussed above, Games Workshop Group's accrual ratio indicates strong conversion of profit to free cash flow, which is a positive for the company. Because of this, we think Games Workshop Group'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. The goal of this article has been to assess how well we can rely on the statutory earnings to reflect the company's potential, but there is plenty more to consider. Obviously, we love to consider the historical data to inform our opinion of a company. But it can be really valuable to consider what other analysts are forecasting. So feel free to check out our free graph representing analyst forecasts.

Today we've zoomed in on a single data point to better understand the nature of Games Workshop Group'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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