We Think Shareholders Should Be Aware Of Some Factors Beyond Milan Station Holdings' (HKG:1150) Profit

By
Simply Wall St
Published
September 07, 2021
SEHK:1150
Source: Shutterstock

We didn't see Milan Station Holdings Limited's (HKG:1150) stock surge when it reported robust earnings recently. We decided to have a deeper look, and we believe that investors might be worried about several concerning factors that we found.

View our latest analysis for Milan Station Holdings

earnings-and-revenue-history
SEHK:1150 Earnings and Revenue History September 7th 2021

A Closer Look At Milan Station Holdings' Earnings

In high finance, the key ratio used to measure how well a company converts reported profits into free cash flow (FCF) is the accrual ratio (from cashflow). 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. You could think of the accrual ratio from cashflow as the 'non-FCF profit ratio'.

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. 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. 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 June 2021, Milan Station Holdings had an accrual ratio of 0.24. Unfortunately, that means its free cash flow fell significantly short of its reported profits. Over the last year it actually had negative free cash flow of HK$3.7m, in contrast to the aforementioned profit of HK$8.10m. It's worth noting that Milan Station Holdings generated positive FCF of HK$23m a year ago, so at least they've done it in the past. 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. One positive for Milan Station Holdings shareholders is that it's accrual ratio was significantly better last year, providing reason to believe that it may return to stronger cash conversion in the future. 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 Milan Station Holdings.

One essential aspect of assessing earnings quality is to look at how much a company is diluting shareholders. In fact, Milan Station Holdings increased the number of shares on issue by 250% 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 Milan Station Holdings' EPS by clicking here.

A Look At The Impact Of Milan Station Holdings' Dilution on Its Earnings Per Share (EPS).

Milan Station Holdings was losing money three years ago. Zooming in to the last year, we still can't talk about growth rates coherently, since it made a loss last year. What we do know is that while it's great to see a profit over the last twelve months, that profit would have been better, on a per share basis, if the company hadn't needed to issue shares. And so, you can see quite clearly that dilution is having a rather significant impact on shareholders.

In the long term, if Milan Station Holdings' 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 Milan Station Holdings' profit was boosted by unusual items worth HK$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. Which is hardly surprising, given the name. Milan Station Holdings had a rather significant contribution from unusual items relative to its profit 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 Milan Station Holdings' Profit Performance

In conclusion, Milan Station Holdings' weak accrual ratio suggested its statutory earnings have been inflated by the unusual items. Meanwhile, the new shares issued mean that shareholders now own less of the company, unless they tipped in more cash themselves. For all the reasons mentioned above, we think that, at a glance, Milan Station Holdings' statutory profits could be considered to be low quality, because they are likely to give investors an overly positive impression of the company. So while earnings quality is important, it's equally important to consider the risks facing Milan Station Holdings at this point in time. Our analysis shows 4 warning signs for Milan Station Holdings (2 don't sit too well with us!) 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 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. 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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