We Think Fiera Milano's (BIT:FM) Robust Earnings Are Conservative

By
Simply Wall St
Published
March 22, 2022
BIT:FM
Source: Shutterstock

Fiera Milano SpA's (BIT:FM) stock was strong after they reported robust earnings. We did some analysis and think that investors are missing some details hidden beneath the profit numbers.

See our latest analysis for Fiera Milano

earnings-and-revenue-history
BIT:FM Earnings and Revenue History March 22nd 2022

Examining Cashflow Against Fiera Milano'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. You could think of the accrual ratio from cashflow as the 'non-FCF profit ratio'.

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. 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. To quote a 2014 paper by Lewellen and Resutek, "firms with higher accruals tend to be less profitable in the future".

Over the twelve months to December 2021, Fiera Milano recorded an accrual ratio of -0.77. That implies it has very good cash conversion, and that its earnings in the last year actually significantly understate its free cash flow. Indeed, in the last twelve months it reported free cash flow of €106m, well over the €43.2m it reported in profit. Given that Fiera Milano had negative free cash flow in the prior corresponding period, the trailing twelve month resul of €106m would seem to be a step in the right direction. 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.

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.

The Impact Of Unusual Items On Profit

While the accrual ratio might bode well, we also note that Fiera Milano's profit was boosted by unusual items worth €67m in the last twelve months. 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. Fiera Milano had a rather significant contribution from unusual items relative to its profit to December 2021. 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 Fiera Milano's Profit Performance

Fiera Milano's profits got a boost from unusual items, which indicates they might not be sustained and yet its accrual ratio still indicated solid cash conversion, which is promising. Based on these factors, it's hard to tell if Fiera Milano's profits are a reasonable reflection of its underlying profitability. With this in mind, we wouldn't consider investing in a stock unless we had a thorough understanding of the risks. When we did our research, we found 2 warning signs for Fiera Milano (1 is concerning!) that we believe deserve your full attention.

Our examination of Fiera Milano has focussed on certain factors that can make its earnings look better than they are. 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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