Stock Analysis

PanAsialum Holdings (HKG:2078) Is Posting Healthy Earnings, But It Is Not All Good News

SEHK:2078
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After announcing healthy earnings, PanAsialum Holdings Company Limited's (HKG:2078) stock rose over the last week. Despite the strong profit numbers, we believe that there are some deeper issues which investors should look into.

View our latest analysis for PanAsialum Holdings

earnings-and-revenue-history
SEHK:2078 Earnings and Revenue History May 11th 2021

A Closer Look At PanAsialum 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. 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.

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. 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".

PanAsialum Holdings has an accrual ratio of 0.44 for the year to December 2020. Statistically speaking, that's a real negative for future earnings. 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$135m despite its profit of HK$920.8m, mentioned above. We also note that PanAsialum Holdings' free cash flow was actually negative last year as well, so we could understand if shareholders were bothered by its outflow of HK$135m. 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 PanAsialum Holdings.

The Impact Of Unusual Items On Profit

The fact that the company had unusual items boosting profit by HK$1.6b, in the last year, probably goes some way to explain why its accrual ratio was so weak. While we like to see profit increases, we tend to be a little more cautious when unusual items have made a big contribution. We ran the numbers on most publicly listed companies worldwide, and it's very common for unusual items to be once-off in nature. And, after all, that's exactly what the accounting terminology implies. PanAsialum Holdings had a rather significant contribution from unusual items relative to its profit to December 2020. 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 PanAsialum Holdings' Profit Performance

PanAsialum Holdings 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, PanAsialum Holdings' statutory profits could be considered to be low quality, because they are likely to give investors an overly positive impression of the company. If you want to do dive deeper into PanAsialum Holdings, you'd also look into what risks it is currently facing. Case in point: We've spotted 4 warning signs for PanAsialum Holdings you should be mindful of and 2 of them don't sit too well with us.

Our examination of PanAsialum 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 is always more to discover if you are capable of focussing your mind on minutiae. 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. 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. 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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