We didn't see Hang Tai Yue Group Holdings Limited's (HKG:8081) stock surge when it reported robust earnings recently. We looked deeper into the numbers and found that shareholders might be concerned with some underlying weaknesses.
Examining Cashflow Against Hang Tai Yue Group Holdings' Earnings
One key financial ratio used to measure how well a company converts its profit to free cash flow (FCF) is the accrual ratio. In plain english, this ratio subtracts FCF from net profit, and divides that number by the company's average operating assets over that period. The ratio shows us how much a company's profit exceeds its FCF.
Therefore, it's actually considered a good thing when a company has a negative accrual ratio, but a bad thing if its accrual ratio is positive. 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. That's because some academic studies have suggested that high accruals ratios tend to lead to lower profit or less profit growth.
For the year to December 2021, Hang Tai Yue Group Holdings had an accrual ratio of 0.78. As a general rule, that bodes poorly for future profitability. To wit, the company did not generate one whit of free cashflow in that time. In the last twelve months it actually had negative free cash flow, with an outflow of HK$265m despite its profit of HK$55.7m, mentioned above. We also note that Hang Tai Yue 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$265m. However, that's not all there is to consider. We can see that unusual items have impacted its statutory profit, and therefore the accrual ratio.
Note: we always recommend investors check balance sheet strength. Click here to be taken to our balance sheet analysis of Hang Tai Yue Group Holdings.
How Do Unusual Items Influence Profit?
The fact that the company had unusual items boosting profit by HK$122m, in the last year, probably goes some way to explain why its accrual ratio was so weak. We can't deny that higher profits generally leave us optimistic, but we'd prefer it if the profit were to be sustainable. 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. Hang Tai Yue Group Holdings had a rather significant contribution from unusual items relative to its profit to December 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 Hang Tai Yue Group Holdings' Profit Performance
Summing up, Hang Tai Yue Group Holdings received a nice boost to profit from unusual items, but could not match its paper profit with free cash flow. On reflection, the above-mentioned factors give us the strong impression that Hang Tai Yue Group Holdings'underlying earnings power is not as good as it might seem, based on the statutory profit numbers. If you want to do dive deeper into Hang Tai Yue Group Holdings, you'd also look into what risks it is currently facing. For example, we've found that Hang Tai Yue Group Holdings has 3 warning signs (1 is a bit concerning!) that deserve your attention before going any further with your analysis.
Our examination of Hang Tai Yue 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. 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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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.