Despite posting some strong earnings, the market for Defence Tech Holding S.p.A.'s (BIT:DTH) stock hasn't moved much. Our analysis suggests that shareholders have noticed something concerning in the numbers.
Examining Cashflow Against Defence Tech Holding's 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. 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 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 December 2021, Defence Tech Holding had an accrual ratio of 0.40. As a general rule, that bodes poorly for future profitability. And indeed, during the period the company didn't produce any free cash flow whatsoever. In the last twelve months it actually had negative free cash flow, with an outflow of €3.3m despite its profit of €3.74m, mentioned above. We saw that FCF was €159k a year ago though, so Defence Tech Holding has at least been able to generate positive FCF in the past.
That might leave you wondering what analysts are forecasting in terms of future profitability. Luckily, you can click here to see an interactive graph depicting future profitability, based on their estimates.
Our Take On Defence Tech Holding's Profit Performance
As we discussed above, we think Defence Tech Holding's earnings were not supported by free cash flow, which might concern some investors. For this reason, we think that Defence Tech Holding's statutory profits may be a bad guide to its underlying earnings power, and might give investors an overly positive impression of the company. Of course, we've only just scratched the surface when it comes to analysing its earnings; one could also consider margins, forecast growth, and return on investment, among other factors. With this in mind, we wouldn't consider investing in a stock unless we had a thorough understanding of the risks. Every company has risks, and we've spotted 1 warning sign for Defence Tech Holding you should know about.
This note has only looked at a single factor that sheds light on the nature of Defence Tech Holding's profit. 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.
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.