The healthy profit announcement from China Yurun Food Group Limited (HKG:1068 ) didn't seem to impress investors. Our analysis has found some underlying factors which may be cause for concern.
Examining Cashflow Against China Yurun Food Group'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. You could think of the accrual ratio from cashflow as the 'non-FCF profit ratio'.
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. To quote a 2014 paper by Lewellen and Resutek, "firms with higher accruals tend to be less profitable in the future".
China Yurun Food Group has an accrual ratio of 0.92 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$250m despite its profit of HK$1.68b, mentioned above. It's worth noting that China Yurun Food Group generated positive FCF of HK$53m a year ago, so at least they've done it in the past. 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. The good news for shareholders is that China Yurun Food Group'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. As a result, some shareholders may be looking for stronger cash conversion in the current year.
Note: we always recommend investors check balance sheet strength. Click here to be taken to our balance sheet analysis of China Yurun Food Group.
How Do Unusual Items Influence Profit?
The fact that the company had unusual items boosting profit by HK$2.7b, in the last year, probably goes some way to explain why its accrual ratio was so weak. While it's always nice to have higher profit, a large contribution from unusual items sometimes dampens our enthusiasm. We ran the numbers on most publicly listed companies worldwide, and it's very common for unusual items to be once-off in nature. Which is hardly surprising, given the name. China Yurun Food Group had a rather significant contribution from unusual items relative to its profit to June 2021. All else being equal, this would likely have the effect of making the statutory profit a poor guide to underlying earnings power.
Our Take On China Yurun Food Group's Profit Performance
China Yurun Food Group had a weak accrual ratio, but its profit did receive a boost from unusual items. For all the reasons mentioned above, we think that, at a glance, China Yurun Food Group's statutory profits could be considered to be low quality, because they are likely to give investors an overly positive impression of the company. So if you'd like to dive deeper into this stock, it's crucial to consider any risks it's facing. For example, we've discovered 3 warning signs that you should run your eye over to get a better picture of China Yurun Food Group.
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 are plenty of other ways to inform your opinion of a company. 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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This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. 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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