Rambler Metals and Mining (LON:RMM) Is Posting Solid Earnings, But It Is Not All Good News

By
Simply Wall St
Published
November 09, 2021
AIM:RMM
Source: Shutterstock

Rambler Metals and Mining PLC's (LON:RMM) solid earnings report last week was underwhelming to investors. We think that they may be worried about something else, so we did some analysis and found that investors have noticed some soft numbers underlying the profit.

View our latest analysis for Rambler Metals and Mining

earnings-and-revenue-history
AIM:RMM Earnings and Revenue History November 10th 2021

Examining Cashflow Against Rambler Metals and Mining'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. The ratio shows us how much a company's profit exceeds its FCF.

As a result, a negative accrual ratio is a positive for the company, and a positive accrual ratio is a negative. 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. Notably, there is some academic evidence that suggests that a high accrual ratio is a bad sign for near-term profits, generally speaking.

Rambler Metals and Mining has an accrual ratio of 0.24 for the year to June 2021. Unfortunately, that means its free cash flow fell significantly short of its reported profits. Even though it reported a profit of US$1.08m, a look at free cash flow indicates it actually burnt through US$16m in the last year. We also note that Rambler Metals and Mining's free cash flow was actually negative last year as well, so we could understand if shareholders were bothered by its outflow of US$16m. Having said that, there is more to consider. We can look at how unusual items in the profit and loss statement impacted its accrual ratio, as well as explore how dilution is impacting shareholders negatively. The good news for shareholders is that Rambler Metals and Mining's 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.

Note: we always recommend investors check balance sheet strength. Click here to be taken to our balance sheet analysis of Rambler Metals and Mining.

In order to understand the potential for per share returns, it is essential to consider how much a company is diluting shareholders. In fact, Rambler Metals and Mining increased the number of shares on issue by 933% over the last twelve months by issuing new shares. Therefore, each share now receives a smaller portion of profit. To talk about net income, without noticing earnings per share, is to be distracted by the big numbers while ignoring the smaller numbers that talk to per share value. You can see a chart of Rambler Metals and Mining's EPS by clicking here.

How Is Dilution Impacting Rambler Metals and Mining's Earnings Per Share? (EPS)

Three years ago, Rambler Metals and Mining 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). And so, you can see quite clearly that dilution is having a rather significant impact on shareholders.

In the long term, if Rambler Metals and Mining's earnings per share can increase, then the share price should too. However, if its profit increases while its earnings per share stay flat (or even fall) then shareholders might not see much benefit. For that reason, you could say that EPS is more important that net income in the long run, assuming the goal is to assess whether a company's share price might grow.

The Impact Of Unusual Items On Profit

Given the accrual ratio, it's not overly surprising that Rambler Metals and Mining's profit was boosted by unusual items worth US$6.5m in the last twelve months. While we like to see profit increases, we tend to be a little more cautious when unusual items have made a big contribution. When we crunched the numbers on thousands of publicly listed companies, we found that a boost from unusual items in a given year is often not repeated the next year. And that's as you'd expect, given these boosts are described as 'unusual'. We can see that Rambler Metals and Mining's positive unusual items were quite significant relative to its profit in the year to June 2021. As a result, we can surmise that the unusual items are making its statutory profit significantly stronger than it would otherwise be.

Our Take On Rambler Metals and Mining's Profit Performance

In conclusion, Rambler Metals and Mining's weak accrual ratio suggested its statutory earnings have been inflated by the unusual items. The dilution means the results are weaker when viewed from a per-share perspective. On reflection, the above-mentioned factors give us the strong impression that Rambler Metals and Mining'sunderlying earnings power is not as good as it might seem, based on the statutory profit numbers. Keep in mind, when it comes to analysing a stock it's worth noting the risks involved. Our analysis shows 4 warning signs for Rambler Metals and Mining (2 make us uncomfortable!) and we strongly recommend you look at these bad boys before investing.

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. 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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