We Believe That Superland Group Holdings' (HKG:368) Weak Earnings Are A Good Indicator Of Underlying Profitability

By
Simply Wall St
Published
October 05, 2021
SEHK:368
Source: Shutterstock

Superland Group Holdings Limited's (HKG:368) stock wasn't much affected by its recent lackluster earnings numbers. Our analysis suggests that they may be missing some concerning details underlying the profit numbers.

See our latest analysis for Superland Group Holdings

earnings-and-revenue-history
SEHK:368 Earnings and Revenue History October 5th 2021

Zooming In On Superland Group Holdings' Earnings

Many investors haven't heard of the accrual ratio from cashflow, but it is actually a useful measure of how well a company's profit is backed up by free cash flow (FCF) during a given period. To get the accrual ratio we first subtract FCF from profit for a period, and then divide that number by the average operating assets for the period. 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. 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.

Superland Group Holdings has an accrual ratio of 0.43 for the year to June 2021. Statistically speaking, that's a real negative for future earnings. And indeed, during the period the company didn't produce any free cash flow whatsoever. In the last twelve months it actually had negative free cash flow, with an outflow of HK$130m despite its profit of HK$19.3m, mentioned above. We also note that Superland Group Holdings' free cash flow was actually negative last year as well, so we could understand if shareholders were bothered by its outflow of HK$130m. However, that's not all there is to consider. The accrual ratio is reflecting the impact of unusual items on statutory profit, at least in part.

Note: we always recommend investors check balance sheet strength. Click here to be taken to our balance sheet analysis of Superland Group Holdings.

How Do Unusual Items Influence Profit?

Given the accrual ratio, it's not overly surprising that Superland Group Holdings' profit was boosted by unusual items worth HK$17m 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 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. We can see that Superland Group Holdings' 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 Superland Group Holdings' Profit Performance

Summing up, Superland Group Holdings received a nice boost to profit from unusual items, but could not match its paper profit with free cash flow. For all the reasons mentioned above, we think that, at a glance, Superland Group Holdings' 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. For example, Superland Group Holdings has 5 warning signs (and 3 which are a bit concerning) we think you should know about.

Our examination of Superland Group Holdings has focussed on certain factors that can make its earnings look better than they are. And, on that basis, we are somewhat skeptical. 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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