Shareholders In V-Mart Retail (NSE:VMART) Should Look Beyond Earnings For The Full Story

June 02, 2022
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Even though V-Mart Retail Limited (NSE:VMART) posted strong earnings recently, the stock hasn't reacted in a large way. We decided to have a deeper look, and we believe that investors might be worried about several concerning factors that we found.

See our latest analysis for V-Mart Retail

NSEI:VMART Earnings and Revenue History June 2nd 2022

A Closer Look At V-Mart Retail's Earnings

Many investors haven't heard of the accrual ratio from cashflow, but it is actually a useful measure of how well a company's profit is backed up by free cash flow (FCF) during a given period. 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.

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 March 2022, V-Mart Retail had an accrual ratio of 0.31. Therefore, we know that it's free cashflow was significantly lower than its statutory profit, raising questions about how useful that profit figure really is. In the last twelve months it actually had negative free cash flow, with an outflow of ₹1.6b despite its profit of ₹116.4m, mentioned above. We saw that FCF was ₹1.1b a year ago though, so V-Mart Retail has at least been able to generate positive FCF 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 V-Mart Retail'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 V-Mart Retail.

How Do Unusual Items Influence Profit?

Given the accrual ratio, it's not overly surprising that V-Mart Retail's profit was boosted by unusual items worth ₹158m in the last twelve months. While it's always nice to have higher profit, a large contribution from unusual items sometimes dampens our enthusiasm. When we analysed the vast majority of listed companies worldwide, we found that significant unusual items are often not repeated. Which is hardly surprising, given the name. If V-Mart Retail doesn't see that contribution repeat, then all else being equal we'd expect its profit to drop over the current year.

Our Take On V-Mart Retail's Profit Performance

Summing up, V-Mart Retail received a nice boost to profit from unusual items, but could not match its paper profit with free cash flow. For the reasons mentioned above, we think that a perfunctory glance at V-Mart Retail's statutory profits might make it look better than it really is on an underlying level. Keep in mind, when it comes to analysing a stock it's worth noting the risks involved. For example - V-Mart Retail has 2 warning signs we think you should be aware of.

Our examination of V-Mart Retail 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. 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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