Statistically speaking, it is less risky to invest in profitable companies than in unprofitable ones. That said, the current statutory profit is not always a good guide to a company's underlying profitability. In this article, we'll look at how useful this year's statutory profit is, when analysing Century Enka (NSE:CENTENKA).
It's good to see that over the last twelve months Century Enka made a profit of ₹209.3m on revenue of ₹10.9b. In the last few years both its revenue and its profit have fallen, as you can see in the chart below.
Of course, it is only sensible to look beyond the statutory profits and question how well those numbers represent the sustainable earnings power of the business. As a result, today we're going to take a closer look at Century Enka's cashflow, and unusual items, with a view to understanding what these might tell us about its statutory profit. Note: we always recommend investors check balance sheet strength. Click here to be taken to our balance sheet analysis of Century Enka.
Examining Cashflow Against Century Enka's Earnings
One key financial ratio used to measure how well a company converts its profit to free cash flow (FCF) is the accrual ratio. 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. This ratio tells us how much of a company's profit is not backed by free cashflow.
As a result, a negative accrual ratio is a positive for the company, and a positive accrual ratio is a negative. While having an accrual ratio above zero is of little concern, we do think it's worth noting when a company has a relatively high accrual ratio. 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 September 2020, Century Enka had an accrual ratio of -0.12. That indicates that its free cash flow was a fair bit more than its statutory profit. In fact, it had free cash flow of ₹1.1b in the last year, which was a lot more than its statutory profit of ₹209.3m. Century Enka shareholders are no doubt pleased that free cash flow improved over the last twelve months. 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.
The Impact Of Unusual Items On Profit
Surprisingly, given Century Enka's accrual ratio implied strong cash conversion, its paper profit was actually boosted by ₹329m in unusual items. 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. Century Enka had a rather significant contribution from unusual items relative to its profit to September 2020. 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 Century Enka's Profit Performance
In conclusion, Century Enka's accrual ratio suggests its statutory earnings are of good quality, but on the other hand the profits were boosted by unusual items. Based on these factors, we think it's very unlikely that Century Enka's statutory profits make it seem much weaker than it is. Keep in mind, when it comes to analysing a stock it's worth noting the risks involved. While conducting our analysis, we found that Century Enka has 3 warning signs and it would be unwise to ignore these.
In this article we've looked at a number of factors that can impair the utility of profit numbers, as a guide to a business. 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. 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.
If you decide to trade Century Enka, use the lowest-cost* platform that is rated #1 Overall by Barron’s, Interactive Brokers. Trade stocks, options, futures, forex, bonds and funds on 135 markets, all from a single integrated account.
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.
*Interactive Brokers Rated Lowest Cost Broker by StockBrokers.com Annual Online Review 2020
Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.